John was born to Hugh Wiley Steakley Jr. and Alpha Cowley Steakley on December 3, 1932 in San Marcos, Texas. He attended public schools, graduating from San Marcos High School in 1950 where he played football, was in the band, the drama club, and other activities. He received an appointment to the West Point Military Academy, graduating in 1955, serving in the Army Infantry.
In the spring of 1958, as army lieutenant who had just arrived in Kitzingen, West Germany, he met Betty “Cindy” Polhemus, a 1st grade teacher for Department of Defense dependent children in West Germany. After a relentless pursuit by John, Cindy finally said “yes”. They were married in a civil ceremony in the Kitzingen city hall on June 3, 1959. Shortly after that, they returned to New York and held a formal military wedding in the Cadet Chapel at West Point (USMA) on July 19, 1959.
John and Cindy then returned to Germany and moved to Schweinfurt, Germany. They returned to USA on July 4, 1961. John attended school at Fort Benning, GA, where their first son John, Jr. was born. Their next move (1962) was to New York where John taught ROTC at Fordham University. While there their second son, Mark was born in 1963. In 1964, he was stationed for one year in Korea.
In 1965, the family moved to Fort Ord, CA for what became a short tour because John received orders to attend an advisor’s school and report to Vietnam for a one-year tour where he was awarded his first Bronze Star. While John was in school, Cindy delivered their third son, Matthew in 1967. Upon John’s return, they moved to Fort Dix, NJ in 1968. In 1970, John was given the choice of serving 1-1/2 years in Vietnam and putting the family in government quarters anywhere in the world, or only one-year but he would have to find housing for the family. The decision was to choose the 1-1/2 year tour where he was awarded his second Bronze star. The family moved to Schofield Barracks, HI where their fourth son, Michael was born in 1971. John retired as a Major in 1975 after 21 years of service, receiving the Meritorious Service Medal. The family established their home in Fort Myers, FL where John and Cindy lived the remainder of their lives.
John’s life was one of duty and service to God, his family, and country. He provided the foundation the family was built on. After retiring from the Army, he worked as a manager of Radio Shack and then as the Facilities Manager for Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church. He enjoyed refereeing football and umpiring baseball for his sons’ leagues and high school games.
He is survived by his sons, John Jr. (Charlene); Mark (Susannah); Matthew (Jennifer) and Michael; three grandchildren Kaitlyn, Michaela, and Shawn; his sister Nancy; nephew Jeff, and nieces Valerie “Dawn” and Holly.
A memorial service, followed by a reception, will be held at 3:00pm Saturday, August 7, 2021 at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, 2635 Cleveland Avenue, Fort Myers, Florida.