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Jeanne Steed ’47

June 14, 2022, in Salem, Oregon.

Jeanne grew up on the south shore of Long Island in the small town of Westhampton. She was glad to have grown up in New York, because at the time she felt it was ahead of the rest of the country in providing opportunities for girls to be physically active. She participated in a sport or activity every season, including baseball, basketball, volleyball, archery, and dance. In addition, she swam, rowed, biked, and hiked. She attended a two-room grade school, graduated from Westhampton High, and then did postgraduate study at Northfield Seminary.

Her parents had been enchanted by the Northwest when they toured it on their honeymoon, and when it came time for Jeanne and her sister to choose colleges, they set their sights on Northwest schools. Jeanne chose Reed, where she majored in biology and took as many PE courses as possible, including badminton, team sports, and swimming, earning her lifeguard certificate swimming in the outdoor pool. She wrote her thesis, “A Study of Mitotic Rate Fluctuations in Tadpole Tails,” advised by Prof. Ralph Macy [biology 1942–55].

“Reed changed the way I thought about the world,” she said. “I realized mental structures were necessary to go along with the thinking.”

Jeanne met her future husband, George Raymond (Ray) Steed ’41, while accompanying Prof. Frederick Ayres [chemistry 1940–70] on a hiking trip to Eliot Glacier on Mt. Hood. Jeanne and Ray married in the Reed chapel, where she was given away by Prof. Arthur Scott [chemistry 1923–79]. A year later, the couple headed off to the University of Oregon, where each earned a master’s in education. Ray eventually served an eight-year term on the Reed Board of Trustees and was president of the Reed College Alumni Association.

Jeanne taught biology and algebra for a year at Girls Polytechnic High School in Portland, and then focused on her family and home building. She began substitute teaching in 1962 and finished the year teaching math at Wilson High School. She moved to Jackson High School, where she started the computer math program.

For Jeanne, mental challenges were as important as physical activity. She played bridge every week and was a member of the League of Women Voters for 50 years, also serving as its president. After retiring from teaching in 1983, Jeanne began doing synchronized swimming. She was a multiple masters national champion and was awarded the Mae McEwan Award given by U.S. Synchronized Swimming for her contributions to the sport. She served on Reed’s alumni board, participated in alumni college and the alumni travel program, and received the Alumni Programs Volunteer Award.

She is survived by her daughter, Laurie Cook, and her son, Mike Steed.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2022

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