Robert C. (Bob) Steelman, of Midlothian, VA, peacefully passed on May 6, 2023, just seven days after his 100th birthday. Robert was born on April 29, 1923 in Collingswood, NJ to the late Harry C. Steelman, Sr. and Harriett (Carter) Steelman. He was proceeded in death by his loving wife of 67 years, Grace (Hoen) Steelman, and his brother Harry C. Steelman, Jr.
Robert is survived by his two children, Grace V. Pastuszek, and Robert S. Steelman, and his nephews Harry C. Steelman, III, and John Henry Steelman.
Robert is also survived by and was very proud of his 7 grandchildren, 4 step grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and 12 great-great grandchildren.
Robert graduated from Collingswood High School in Collingswood, NJ in 1941. There he learned to play the trumpet, and as a member of the marching band, met his future wife, Grace, who he proposed to remotely through his father while serving overseas in WWII. He then entered Drexel University in Philadelphia in its Mechanical Engineering curriculum while becoming a Draftsman Apprentice for the Worth Steel Co., in Claymont, DE. In 1944 he entered the Army, joining an Engineering and Forestry brigade. He proudly served in both the European and Pacific arenas of WWII, leaving the service with an Honorable Discharge in 1946 as a Tec 4 supply sergeant. He then resumed night school at Drexel, earning his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1950.
In 1947 he married Grace and began working for the DuPont de Nemours company in Newark, DE as a draftsman. In 1960 he earned his Professional Engineering license from the state of Delaware and was promoted to Mechanical Engineer.
During his 34-year career with DuPont he was transferred to Aiken, SC where he obtained his security clearance to work on the Savannah River Nuclear site. He was later transferred to Hamm, Germany where he worked on the construction of a Nylon plant. He returned home to Wilmington, DE after each extended assignment.
Robert enjoyed supporting his children in their various activities and volunteering his time to organizations like 4H, Band Boosters, and scouting with Troop 50 at St. Phillips Church on Kirkwood Highway in Wilmington, DE.
For over 40 years Robert and Grace enjoyed an extensive hobby in ceramics, by molding, painting, firing, and teaching the craft to others.
For several years in the 70s he and Grace enjoyed a getaway in Pot Nets Park in Indian River, DE, close to Rehoboth Beach where he had spent many summers as a teen. There they enjoyed boating, fishing, and playing with grandchildren on the beach.
In the mid-1990s he and Grace relocated to Palm Harbor, FL to soak up the warmth and company of Robert’s lifelong friends, the Fairchilds. While in Florida, he became involved with his local church and enjoyed volunteering as a lead usher. In 2006, he and Grace moved to High Point, NC to be close to his son. They later relocated to Brandermill Woods Independent Senior Living in 2011 in Midlothian, VA. He lovingly cared for Grace as she battled and finally succumbed to dementia in 2014. Robert became known as the Mayor of Brandermill, beloved by many for his kindness and willingness to be involved and volunteering his time to help others. Robert continued to drive and remain independent until just a few months month prior to his passing. He will be missed and admired by all those who knew him.
A service will be on Saturday May 13 at 10 am at McCrery and Harra Funeral Home, 3710 Kirkwood Highway Wilmington, 19808. Burial will be in Gracelawn Memorial Park.