John Erland Steen

Date of Birth

October 31, 1930

Date of Death

January 28, 2022

City of Death

Santa Barbara

John Steen passed away at Serenity House in Santa Barbara after a short illness. He was 91 years old.

John was born in Glen Ridge, NJ, to Earle and Laura Steen, and was raised in Verona, NJ. He joined the Boy Scouts and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. From an early age, John wanted to be an electrical engineer, and so he earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Newark College of Engineering (now New Jersey Institute of Technology). He honed his skills in the US Army at White Sands, NM, received an honorable discharge, and went to work for General Electric. Among his other employers over the years were Honeywell, Kaman Tempo, and Delco. He continued to work until age 83.

While at White Sands, John met his wife, Frances Helen Smith. They married in 1956 and had two daughters, Janet Lauren Steen of Carpinteria, and Molly Ellen Steen (Bob Westwick) of Santa Barbara. They moved to California, and eventually to Santa Barbara in 1962. John and Fran divorced, but prided themselves on remaining friends until her death in 2013.

John was always interested in the ocean, and in the 1970s he got NAUI certified for SCUBA diving. He loved being on and in the water, especially near the Santa Barbara Channel Islands. He passed his enjoyment of the ocean to his daughters, taking them regularly to the beach, teaching them to first jump waves, then body surf them, and how to identify various sea animals in tide pools.

Travel became an interest of John’s, especially after meeting his good friend, Norma Dockery. During their 40-year friendship she introduced him to the pleasures of seeing the world, and brought much joy to his life until she passed in 2020.

John is survived by his brother, Charles Herbert Steen (Phyllis) of Lake Hopatcong, NJ; his sister, Caroline Hilma Borthwick (of Mt. Arlington, NJ); both daughters; his granddaughter, Emily Steen Edwards Poirier of Redmond, OR; and his great-grandson, Evan Kem Poirier. He will be greatly missed by all of them.

At present there are no plans for a memorial service. The family asks that any donations in John’s memory be made to VNA Health of Santa Barbara, which provided him with care and support in the last months of his life.


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