Harry Steel grinned as he watched the young boy shyly approach his wheelchair, only to quickly turn and run back to his mother. The boy is one of several of Steel’s family members who gathered Tuesday at The Homestead in Denison to throw a belated 103rd birthday celebration for their patriarch.

Harry Steel grinned as he watched the young boy shyly approach his wheelchair, only to quickly turn and run back to his mother. The boy is one of several of Steel’s family members who gathered Tuesday at The Homestead in Denison to throw a belated 103rd birthday celebration for their patriarch.


Steel began his long life on Dec. 10, 1910 when he was born in Woodville, Oklahoma, now under the waters of Lake Texoma. His parents, Cuthbert and Lottie Steel, farmed on land that Lottie Steel, a part Chickasaw Indian, had received as an allotment. Steel, his two brothers and one sister attended school in Woodville, for the most part, as it was larger than the school in Preston Bend, located in Texas, just across the river from Woodville. The family, however, moved between the two states several times. The Woodville school was even attended by a number of students from Preston, and the Woodville community was the social hub, especially for young people from both sides of the river.


Steel and his older brother only completed ninth grade as they had to go to work. However, the younger siblings completed all 12 grades. The industrious young man worked for several years at a nearby dairy farm.


In 1934, Steel met his future wife, Grace Driggers, who lived with her family at Preston Bend. The couple dated until 1937 when they were married. Harry was was 27 years old and Grace was about 20 years old. They remained together until her death in 2006. The couple lived in the Preston and Woodville communities until 1942 when he got a job on the MK&T Railroad. They then moved to Parsons, Kanas where they lived about 20 years. Steel worked in the signal department and then became a maintainer. The Steels moved to Denison in the early 1960s and Harry Steel later retired from the railroad as a signal engineer. They were active in the First Christian Church in Denison and in raising their daughter and son. They also had a third child who was stillborn. The Steel family now includes three grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.


The Steels delivered Meals on Wheels for about 25 years ago, and Harry Steel also occasionally volunteered at the Katy Railroad Museum in Denison. He continued to live by himself in his Denison home until last February. Steel now resides at The Homestead.


Until last February, Steel had lived in his Denison home, but now resides at The Homestead in Denison.