February 18, 1925 - June 14, 2022
Jeanne Halsey Steed
February 18, 1925 – June 14, 2022
Jeanne Steed, 97, died peacefully at her home in Terwilliger Plaza on June 14, 2022, with family by her side.
Born Elinor Jeanne Halsey in Southhampton, NY to Wilmot and Marian Halsey, Jeanne and her sister Vivian grew up in Westhampton, NY on the south shore of Long Island. There she led a very active lifestyle and was involved in many sports (“all of them”) which was not the norm for girls of that day and age and for which she was always very grateful. This included field hockey, softball, basketball, tennis, sailing, dancing, exercising polo ponies in the barn across the street, and swimming. She also played in the school band and loved singing.
Jeanne did a post high school-grad year at Northfield Seminary (Mass.) and then enrolled in Reed College, majoring in biology. Her parents had honeymooned in the Pacific NW, during the advent of terrible roads and changing tires daily, and had always talked about how beautiful it was. She joined the mountain club and on an outing to Mt. Hood’s Elliott Glacier, she met her future husband, Ray Steed, who was an alumni of Reed, just back from WW II where he had been a pilot for the RCAF. They were married the following year.
After marriage Jeanne worked in a hospital tissue lab, then both she and Ray enrolled in the U of O’s Education department, both earning their Masters degrees. After a few years of teaching they started a family, with Jeanne deferring work until the kids were older. Then she taught math and computers in Wilson and Jackson High Schools in the Portland Public Schools. She always gave more than was required of her and always received rave evaluations. In the meantime she and Ray both became ski instructors and instilled in both kids the love of the sport. (Jeanne finally conceded that she needed to quit skiing when she was 87.) The family took many road, ski, and camping trips across the US and Canada and from Alaska to Mexico.
While she was at Reed, Jeanne was introduced to the League of Women Voters. She became a very active member, serving several years on both the Portland and Oregon state boards and 2 years as the Portland League President. She researched, wrote and reported on many issues for the Voter’s Guide (one time being interviewed on the radio from a pay phone during a bad snow storm), served as a discussion leader, and started several LWV units. She was active into her 90’s.
Before retiring and one day when the tennis courts weren’t available, Jeanne decided to go check out a meeting for synchronized swimming at the Multnomah Athletic Club. She got hooked, both to the sport and to the incredible ladies on her team, who all won too many medals to count over 20-25 years. She loved to help out and swim with the younger groups, competed in an age group younger than hers and was an inspiration to all. At her pre-op appointment for a hip replacement, she asked how long it would be before she could do the splits again and she wouldn’t even think of not competing in a National competition a few days after Ray died because she didn’t want to let her team down. She won both the Inspirational Athlete and the Athlete of the Year awards for the MAC. When she could no longer walk, at age 95, she was still thrilled to get into a pool and swim.
Ray and Jeanne traveled a lot after their retirements – China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, S. Pacific Islands, Europe, Africa and Central America. Two trips were as chaperones for the Portland Youth Philharmonic. They both earned their certificates to charter bareboats and sailed with friends and family in the Canadian Gulf Islands and in the Caribbean. They both also earned their pilots licenses, were members of a local club, and flew across the country and all over the west.
Jeanne will always be remembered for her fabulous smile, positive attitude, kindness, willingness to give 1000% to any task she undertook, sense of adventure and as the loving matriarch of her family. She is survived by her daughter Laurie (Rick), son Mike (Paula), 4 grandkids and 6 great grandkids. She was an amazing woman and will be greatly missed. Her family suggests donations to the League of Women Voters Education Fund in her memory.