Barbara Ann Steele Becker died piously in the Lord on the morning of November 14, 2019, at NHC Health Center in Bluffton, SC.
Barbara was born in Detroit, Michigan on August 11, 1932, the daughter and only child of Faye A. (Ben) Steele and Helen G. Steele. She received her early elementary education in the Detroit public school system. When World War ll began, her father was commissioned in the Unites States Marine Corps and sent to the South Pacific. Barbara and her mother then went to live with her grandparents in Shelby, Ohio.
Upon returning to Detroit in 1945, Barbara attended Our Lady of Mercy High School for four years and, upon graduation began her college education at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. During her freshman year, she became a convert to Catholicism and, shortly thereafter, entered the Sisters of Mercy Detroit Province. As a sister, she taught at a number of high schools in Michigan, received her B.A. degree from Mercy College of Detroit, and her M.A. in English from Catholic University, Washington, D.C. in 1962.
In 1964, Barbara entered the Ph.D. Program in English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Upon receiving her doctorate in 1967, she did a year’s fellowship in academic administration, sponsored by the American Council on Education, at Colorado College and, thereafter, was appointed chairperson of the English Department and, in 1969, academic dean at Mercy College of Detroit, a position she held until 1974. In 1974, Barbara left the Sisters of Mercy and married Paul A. Becker, her husband for the next forty-five years.
The Becker’s then relocated to Los Angeles, CA, where she continued her work in Catholic higher education at Mount Saint Mary’s College, serving first as Assistant to the President and later, for nearly nineteen years, as Executive Director of Administration.
Upon their retirement in 1993, Barbara and her husband moved to Prescott, Arizona, where they lived for six years before finally relocating to Sun City Hilton Head here in South Carolina.
In the course of her career in higher education, Barbara served on the State of Michigan Task Force to Study Sexism in the Schools (1974), the Board of Directors of the Cooperative College Registry (1971), and was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the graduate honor society of the University of Michigan. She has been listed in Leaders in Education, 5th edition, in Educators of America, 1973 edition, and in Who’s Who of American Woman.
Barbara and Paul have been active members and supporters of Saint Gregory the Great Catholic Church and school, as well as John Paul ll High School.
The family would like especially to thank Doctors Carl Derrick and Gary Thomas, the staff at NHC Health Care, and the caregivers at Hospice of the Low Country, Tidewater Hospice, and Senior Helpers of Hilton Head for all their kindnesses, compassion and consideration.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Jesuit Refugee Service USA, 1016 16th Street NW Ste. 500, Washington, DC 20036.
Jesuit Refugee Service USA
1016 16th St NW #500, Washington DC 20036