Being an ardent admirer of the Hoosier Group and Indiana Impressionist art, a small notice in our local paper last week caught my eye: The Putnam County Museum, just south of Crawfordsville, was to host a talk last night about Indiana Impressionist artist T(heodore). C(lement). Steele! (Click here for the detailed notice from Greencastle’s Banner-Graphic).
The featured speakers were Steele’s great-grandsons, Nick and Bob, who are first cousins. It was a wonderful talk, sharing stories and remembrances from their own fathers and family members about “Great-grandfather,” and they displayed copies of family photos and other treasures for us to view. Although T.C. Steele died before Nick and Bob were born, the warmth of their family lore and its history handed down was obvious and important to them. Each of Bob’s and Nick’s own families carry on a traditional family name through the generations, and Nick’s three daughters were in the audience, as well. Nick Steele is Emeritus Professor of Classical Studies at DePauw University, where he taught for almost 40 years. Bob Steele is a DePauw graduate and the Director of the Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics and Professor of Journalism Ethics at DePauw.
The Wabash connection here is that Brandt Nicholas Steele is Wabash Class of 1952. During comments about T.C.’s Montgomery County ties, he recalled that Great-grandfather T.C. Steele had received an honorary degree from Wabash (A.M. in 1900), and that Wabash is Nick’s own alma mater. In conversation after the program, Nick told me that Dr. Jack Charles, who taught Greek and History 1940-1980, was the Wabash influence who sparked his passion for Classical Studies and subsequently his academic career. Nick also fondly recalls the Class of 1952 reunions he has attended on campus, and he looks forward to his 60th in 2012!
Last night was a unique opportunity to see two men, so well-known in their own fields of study, sincerely reminiscing about their family and its unique place in Indiana and art history. It is also an honor to know how Wabash College shares in a part of their family history to be told to its future generations.