Steel, Ellis Brevard (Mrs. S.A.)



December 5 1873-November 20, 1962
Ellis Brevard, daughter of Alfred Lee and Sallie Malone Brevard, was born in Union City, Tennessee on December 5, 1873 and died on November 20, 1962 in Laurel, Mississippi while living with her daughter, Mrs. Virginia Steel Lindsay. She was laid to rest beside her husband, the late Dr. S. A. Steel, in the Mansfield cemetery following services in the Mansfield Methodist Church, where she and Dr. Steel had served their last pastorate and where they had retired. The Rev. W. R. Irving, Jr. officiated at the services.
At the time of her marriage to Dr. Steel on January 4, 1892, they served a pastorate at the famous McKendrie Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Other pastorates included churches in Memphis, Richmond, Virginia, Columbia, South Carolina, and then in Louisiana at the First Methodist Church, Shreveport, and in Mansfield.
Dr. and Mrs. Steel had five children, all now living: T. B. Steel, Lafayette, California; Gerald (Mrs. J. W. Winn), Laurel, Mississippi; Virginia (Mrs. Robert Lindsey, Laurel, Mississippi; Nell (Mrs. Wemple Sanders) La Feria, Texas; and Miss Chloe Steel, Decatur, Georgia.
                She is survived also by a brother Alwyn Brevard of Union City, Tennessee, six grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren.
Mrs. Steel was a member of my church in Mansfield, first with her husband in their official retirement and then after his death. As long as I knew her she never really “retired.” Never has a pastor had greater cooperation nor more loving help in the church than hers. She had long been active in W.S.C.S. and Church School and continued these services as long as health permitted. She continued to serve in all the ways a dedicated “parsonette” serves and did so when she was no longer in a parsonage home.
Dr. Steel’s scintillating, well-remembered wit and brilliance as evidenced in sermons, in conference sessions, in writings, were matched by her own softer quieter kind of intelligence and friendliness which made people love her and love to be with her. She was dear to family and friends and congregation who felt they could take their joys and their sorrows to her. She was truly a “great lady of the Old South” who never let herself dwell too much on the past. She was a wonderful mother, keenly interested in spiritual and educational advantages for her family.
“Miss Ella B.” had an assuming, self-effacing charm which endeared her to the church staff and to all the church. She was an asset to every minister who was fortunate enough to have her as one of his congregation.
Members of the W.S.C.S. and the W.S.G. may be interested to know that it was Dr. Steel who helped organize the first Woman’s Missionary Society of the former Southern Methodist Church. This was at a time when there was ardent and angry debate against women assuming so public a leadership in the church. Knowing Mrs. Steel and her quiet but able leadership, I feel she may be described as the “parsonette behind the parson”—who gave women their rightful place as co-workers with men in God’s Kingdom.
I feel, too, that as her husband wrote his sparkling “Creole Gumbo” column for the Memphis Commercial Appeal as well as his many other columns for the Mansfield Enterprise and other periodicals, it was Mrs. Steel who was behind the scenes to inspire and sometimes to soften those writings.
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1963; p. 275       By Guy M. Hicks

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