Lori Hall Steele, who died Wednesday Nov. 19, 2008, reflected on those words often in her 44 years and tried to live her life that way: without a formulaic approach to it and undaunted by the fate we all face. A yearlong battle with a mysterious illness and her subsequent death did little to dim her huge love of life, dampen her infectious laugh, detract from her gifts as a wonderful writer or diminish her affection for her many friends, her family and her beloved son, Jackson.
Lori was born Sept. 1, 1964, in Flint. She graduated in 1982 from Davison High School and attended Michigan State University where her budding talent landed her on the staff of the Michigan State News. She developed her craft covering the Michigan Legislature, the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in London and South African leader Nelson Mandela’s initial visit to the U.S.
After graduating from MSU in 1986, Lori worked at the Center for Investigative Reporting in San Francisco. She returned to Michigan to work at the Albion Recorder and then the Traverse City Record-Eagle from 1989 to 1993. After losing her dear sister Marci in a 1995 auto accident, Lori launched a successful award-winning freelance career, including editing Michael Moore’s book “Dude, Where’s My Country?” and penning her own, “Sweet and Snappy Cherry Drinks.” She also wrote essays for publications ranging from the Washington Post to SmartMoney and Woman’s Day.
Besides reading and writing, Lori loved to travel. That passion led her to points far and wide, including trips to Australia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, the Czech Republic and 48 of the 50 United States. One of her favorite travels was to Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, ancestral homeland of clan McLeod. Lori married Brian Steele on Feb. 11, 1989, and gave birth to her greatest creation, son Jackson Gabriel, on Aug. 6, 2001. She is survived by and will be greatly missed by both.
Other survivors include mother Shannon K. Hall, whose selfless devotion to her daughter allowed Lori to enjoy every last moment of her life; beloved siblings David Lee Hall and Tonya Manning (and sons Tyler and Trevor Manning) of Cedar; Timothy Grey Hall (and daughter, Zoe Milagro Hall) and Breanne Russell of Traverse City; and Teresa Sullivan (and daughters, Alia Warner and Megan Sullivan) of Williamston; aunts Penelope (Russell) Neimann, Maurine McLeod, Tina (Mike) Hood; uncles Jamie Lytle and Chris (Tracy) Lytle; uncle Gerald (Alice) Hall; favorite cousin Andrea Unsel and her partner, Nancy Penny, as well as numerous other cousins, family, friends, and a network of writers and artists who spanned the globe. She was predeceased by her father, Donald Lee Hall, sister, Marci Lynn Hall and brother-in-law Thierry Coulet, of Ste. Maxime, France.
Throughout this past year, so many people came forward to help Lori in every possible imaginable way. She called these her “white light people,” including brothers Dave and Tim, Tonya Manning, Breanne Russell, Maurine McLeod and family friends Phil Clyne and Kris Hains who worked tirelessly on her behalf. The family expresses their deepest gratitude. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to a fund established in the name of Jackson Gabriel Steele in care of Northwestern Bank in Traverse City.
Visitation will take place on Monday evening, Nov. 24, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home in Traverse City. An 11 a.m. memorial service is planned for Tuesday, Nov. 25, at Baypointe Community Church, 6880 Secor Road in Traverse City.
This documentary was made about Lori and her battle with Lyme Disease and Chlamydial Pneumonia by her brother Timothy Grey.