Jesuit Father Gerard G. Steckler died March 5, 2015, at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center Infirmary in Los Gatos, California. He was 87.
The eldest of five siblings, Fr. Steckler was born on April 17, 1927, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to George and Cecilia Steckler. The family soon moved westward through North Dakota and ultimately settled in Yakima, Washington. Fr. Steckler graduated from Marquette High School there in 1944, and entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Sheridan, Oregon, in August 1944.
He followed the regular course of formation studies and teaching experience; in 1954 he was sent to Louvain, Belgium, for his theological studies. Fr. Steckler was ordained a priest on August 10, 1957, in Louvain, Belgium. Showing great promise and desire for advanced studies, Fr. Steckler attended the University of Washington and completed a doctorate in history there in 1963. He embarked on a well-received career teaching at Seattle University, Gonzaga University, Gannon College in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California.
Sensing 30 years in the classroom was sufficient, Fr. Steckler shifted his energies to pastoral duties: first as a chaplain to the Benedictine and Franciscan Religious Communities on Shaw Island, Washington; then to St. Joseph Church in Dime Box, Texas; finally to St. Anthony Church in Waldport, Oregon, where he spent 15 delightful years.
Declining health brought him to the Regis Community in Spokane, Washington, in 2011; there he enjoyed the banter and prayer of his brother Jesuits, weekly games of bridge, and opining on matters of religion and culture. A final move to Los Gatos, California, was joyfully accepted and accomplished just days before the Lord called him to heaven. He had looked forward to being closer to family and friends living on the west coast.
Fr. Steckler was preceded in death by two siblings: Mel (Truda) and Marilyn (George) Neault. He is survived by his brother Bernie (Joyce) and his sister Joan (Jerry) Marsh. There are several nieces, nephews and cousins as well.