By Rosemary Bailey
This article was published in the August 2011 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
The 20th Anniversary Journal would not be complete without a formal mention of Don Steel who along with Fred Sole was instrumental in the start of our society and who sadly died in April 2008. He was a well known figure in the family history world and added much credence to our society.
Don helped found the Federation of Family History Societies in 1974 and was a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists. He worked for the BBC was involved in the popular 1979 BBC TV series ‘Family History’, narrated by Gordon Honeycombe and based on Gordon’s own researches.
Don made a significant contribution to the Sole Society over many years. As well as research he started the system of paper charts which we used in the early days of the society. It has to be said, he was slow to appreciate the changes that were coming with the expansion of home computing—but he was persuaded in the end. His contributions to our journal, were very interesting and showed his vast depth of historical research and knowledge. ‘Learned’ is how I would put it!
In later years he sold genealogy books and used to turn up at our annual gatherings with a van full of books and other material which didn’t seem to be fully unpacked till lunchtime and I have fond memories of helping him pack up long after the end of the meeting!
You could probably describe Don as mildly eccentric; slightly dishevelled, his head always appeared to be full of thoughts of previous centuries rather than anything to do with the current day. A really nice man, who I’ll always remember fondly.