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Robert Eugene Steichen (Alpha) 1926-2021

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

Bob was born at Sunny Slope Farm, eight miles north of Perry, on November 21, 1926. The third child of John and Maude (Schiltz) Steichen, he walked to Sunny Slope School for his first eight years. He graduated from Perry High School in 1944 where he played trombone in the band, serving as band president his senior year. He was a member of National Honor Society. As a 4-H club member, he showed sheep and pigs, and boarded his first train to attend the National 4-H Congress in Chicago. He and his sister, Mary Lou were popular entertainers at Perry events.

Following in the footsteps of his two older brothers, Bob attended Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) for one semester. With the world still engaged in World War II, he left school and served two years as a sergeant in the United States Army Air Corps – the precursor to today’s U.S. Air Force. He spent the majority of that time at Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base outside of San Francisco, frequently making trips into the city to experience the opera and symphony. He returned to A&M to complete his Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1950. He spent weekends at the family farm in Perry, milking cows and hitchhiking back to Stillwater for school. He was a member of the trombone section at A&M. He accepted his first teaching position in Minco, Oklahoma, where he taught band and vocal music for three years.

When asked once about his greatest life accomplishment, he answered “convincing Margaret to marry me.” He and Margaret Beadle met at a 4-H party at Sunny Slope Farm and dated long distance while he was in Minco. They were married at St. Joseph Catholic Cathedral in Oklahoma City on a hot August morning in 1952. Their honeymoon was a road trip to Taos, New Mexico, staying at cabins along the Rio Grande Valley – sleeping in twin beds.

Bob taught band and vocal music for five years in Waynoka, then moved to Tonkawa High School where he spent 11 years as band director and driver’s education instructor, later adding guidance counselor to his job responsibilities. He completed his Master of Science degree in Secondary Administration from OSU in 1954 and his Education Specialist degree in Counseling and Guidance from Arizona State University in 1967. Margaret would pack the six kids into a station wagon each summer as Bob worked on his advanced degree in Arizona. Bob became the director of counseling, and an instructor in music and psychology at Northern Oklahoma College (NOC) in Tonkawa from 1969 until his retirement in 1990. While at NOC, he served as advisor to the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Bob was recognized by fellow colleagues as Oklahoma “Counselor of the Year”. He was a lifelong member of Oklahoma Music Educators Association and Oklahoma Retired Teachers Association.

He served as president of the Tonkawa Chamber of Commerce and the Tonkawa Lions Club. He was a past commander of the Tonkawa American Legion and served on the Tonkawa City Council for eight years. He served as treasurer of the Blackwell-Tonkawa Airport board for 25 years. He was a committee chairman of the Boy Scouts of America and made a backpacking trek to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico with his son, Kevin. He worked on establishing a senior citizen center and a recycling program in Tonkawa. The Tonkawa Chamber of Commerce awarded him a Lifetime Service Award and, along with wife Margaret, the Tonkawa Pride Award.

Bob lived his Catholic faith, serving on the parish council at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Tonkawa, teaching Sunday school, conducting the Christmas choir, attending daily Mass and breakfast club at Mary’s. He and Margaret were Eucharistic Ministers and he acted as the faculty advisor for Catholic students at NOC.

He never stopped teaching. After retiring from NOC, he led the Tonkawa Leadership program for more than 18 years and taught “Character Counts” to 8th grade students at Tonkawa Mid-Hi where they learned life lessons from a passionate “grandfather” figure. He was a founding member of the North Central OK Arts Council.

He was never happier than when he was wearing overalls (winning the Farmer’s Tan Contest at Tonkawa’s July 4th celebration), driving the tractor or combine and sharing his love of farming with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He instilled in all of us a respect for the land, a love of growing things, his patience and his quiet and deep faith.

Bob was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Margaret; two brothers, (John and Joe); and his sister, Mary Louise. He leaves behind a legacy of love: Jeanne (Steve) Friesen of Enid; Kevin (Erin) Steichen of Tulsa; Suzanne (Matt) McQuade of Yukon; Brenda (Don) Dobbs of Tulsa; Jerry of New York City; Barry (Christine) Steichen of Tulsa; 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, so far.

He lived a life of exemplary kindness, belief in the innate goodness of every person and a genuine smile which will never be forgotten. His greatest wish: “Harmony and understanding among people, and accepting individual differences.” We love him so very much.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Funeral Mass will be a private family event. Please join us virtually via live stream Sunday, March 7, at 2:00pm. Link at

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