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Shock the World Campaign
In This Issue


Jack and Onah Steele believed in Wichita State’s power to change lives through education

Cooper family
The Steele gift will benefit the visual arts and chemistry at WSU.

Onah and Jack Steele graduated from Wichita University in the 1930s, about 30 years before it became Wichita State University. Though both lived well into old age, they never lost their enthusiasm and interest for their alma mater.

They liked to attend WSU football, basketball and baseball games. They enjoyed reading the Sunflower to get the student perspective on campus news. And they looked forward to seeing new exhibits at the Ulrich Museum of Art.

That affection for Wichita State prompted them to create a generous estate gift for two areas of the university, chemistry and the visual arts.

“Onah and Jack liked to have a good time – they went to dances, were skilled at winemaking and loved to travel,” says Mike Lamb, WSU Foundation vice president for planned giving. “But they also wanted to make an impact. They saw Wichita State as a way to do that through the students who will benefit from their scholarships for generations to come.”

Mr. Steele graduated in 1937 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He went on to open his own commercial laboratory and, even after he retired in the 1980s, he worked part-time for various entities because he missed chemistry so much. He died in 2000 at the age of 86.

Mrs. Steele earned a bachelor’s degree in art education in 1936. She studied with American painter Clayton Staples while at Wichita University, then taught art to high school students in Wellington before marrying Jack in 1942. Mrs. Steele died in 2016 at the age of 103.