E. Steeves Smith


June 24, 1938 - October 30, 2020


E. Steeves Smith, 82, of Mitchell, SD, died Friday, October 30, 2020 at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital. The family of E. Steeves Smith would appreciate any written remembrances sent to the care of Bittner Funeral Chapel at 805 W. Havens Ave., Mitchell, SD 57301. Funeral arrangements are pending under the direction of Bittner Funeral Chapel.

Edwin Steeves (“Steeves” or “Steve”) Smith was born June 24, 1938 in Rochester, Minnesota to John and Florence Smith. The family moved to Watertown, SD in 1945 where John managed the local J C Penney store and they built their lives as South Dakotans.  Steeves was active in debate and drama in Watertown High School. His participation in Boys’ State introduced him to politics-- a lifelong passion.  From then on, Republican politics became a defining factor of his life. Steeves attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and in 1960 earned his Bachelor’s degree in political science. While at Carleton, Steeves became State Chairman of the Minnesota College Republicans. Steeves then attended the University of Minnesota Law School and continued his involvement in state and local politics, even serving as State Chair of the Minnesota College Republicans and Chair of the Midwest Federation of College Republicans. 

Despite having gone to school in Minnesota, Steeves never contemplated living anywhere other than South Dakota. After graduation and marriage to Louise Blair in 1963, Steeves returned to South Dakota to be the Aberdeen National Bank trust officer. Steeves and Louise welcomed the birth of their first child, Andrea, in 1964. However, Steeves always planned to practice in a SD law firm and in 1965 joined the firm that eventually became Tinan Smith in Mitchell. The next years in Mitchell saw two more children born, John Blair (JB) and Rosemary. 

A member of First Lutheran Church, Steeves also became a highly active member of the community and volunteered his time by serving numerous non-profit organizations. Throughout the years, Steeves served as the Deputy State's Attorney, President of Kiwanis, SD Children’s Aid, and Methodist Hospital Board of Trustees. During a several month transition period for the hospital Steeves served as administrator simultaneously while also practicing law. Professional activities included Chairman of the South Dakota Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Section and various state bar committees. One notable professional highlight was successfully arguing a holders in due course case in front of the Federal Court of Appeals in St. Louis, MO. 

Steeves had the unenviable position to serve as the Chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party during the Watergate hearings from 1973-75. Because the sitting governor was a Democrat, Steeves was also the head of the Republican Party, a challenging position which demanded finding monetary support for the Party to pay even the smallest of bills. In subsequent years, he served in various positions for the Republican Party, including a Member of the National Board of Directors of the American Council of Young Political Leaders and as a delegate to the National Republican Convention in 1976 and 1992. In 1977, Steeves was one of twenty-four national bipartisan delegates to the Atlantic Association of Young Political Leaders General Assembly and Western European Study Tour in Berlin, London, Bonn and Brussels. 

Steeves was adamant about the importance of education and told his children that, “an education was something that could never be taken from you.” It was education that provided the path to an enriched life and the ability to see the world from a larger perspective.  During the 1980’s, his commitment to education led him to become heavily involved in South Dakota education, serving as Vice President of the State Board of Education and being appointed by the Governor to the Board of Regents. During his tenure as president of the Board of Regents, Steeves oversaw the hiring of Betty Turner Asher, the first female president of the University of South Dakota. 

Through the years Steeves enjoyed golfing, hunting pheasants and indulged a lifelong passion for duplicate bridge (Silver Life Master). One memorable bridge tournament included playing against Bill Gates. A rabid Vikings supporter since 1961, Steeves often traveled to Minneapolis to see the games with his son JB. Despite constant disappointment and heartbreak as a Vikings fan, Steeves even endured the last and coldest outdoor game the Vikings played (minus 6 degrees F at kickoff) wearing heated socks, hand warmers and mounds of clothing.

Steeves’s family will always remember him as a man who lived life in his own way on his own terms, a man who loved to travel and experience other cultures with friends and family trips. He cherished his friendships and loved his fifty-seven years as a lawyer.  Steeves continued to work every day until the week of his death. Steeves passed away October 30, 2020, and is survived by his wife, Louise, his three children, Andrea of Sherman Oaks, CA; Rosemary McCaffrey of Pheonix, AZ; John (JB) and wife Lenee, of Fuquay-Varina, NC; a granddaughter Blair and grandson Edwin; his sister Marcia Drumm (Gene) of Manitowoc, WI; niece, Carrie Barner (Jeff), Abby and Luke Barner; nephew Steven of Chicago and also his beloved Labrador Buddy 14 ½.

Because of the pandemic, the family will wait until spring to gather with friends and share memories of Steeves in Mitchell.  

In honor of his commitment to South Dakota education and the  rule of law, the family is establishing an endowed scholarship in Steeves’ name at the University of South Dakota and asks that memorials be directed the USD Foundation in memory of E. Steeves Smith 1110 N Dakota Street Vermillion, SD 57069 or by phone at 605-677-6703.


To Be Announced


To Be Announced


To Be Announced

Posted by Kathy Woodruff Tchida on February 18, 2021
He was my dads attorney and helped me tremendously after my dad died. Seemed like a wonderful person!
Posted by Marcy wolf on November 23, 2020
Steeves was our attorney for many years. He was one of a kind. Never in a hurry took time to listen and talk. He even went with .me to have my sister sign papers not k owing she would only last a week. He will be missed by many. God Bless you and your family.
Posted by Rose Andersen on November 16, 2020
thoughts and prayers to his family and his legal assistant Mary freeman. He was a great man and will be missed by so many.
Posted by Diane Moke on November 11, 2020
E Steeves served us well as our attorney for many years. My condolences to his family and all that were close to him. Rest in Peace my friend.
Posted by Reg and Deb Young on November 9, 2020
Steeves was a great attorney who will be missed by many. Our deepest sympathies go out to Louise and family. Our sympathies extend as well to Mary Freeman who is the best legal assistant in real estate, probates and keeping the office running smoothly and efficiently. Our prayers are with you all!
Posted by Betty Fortier on November 9, 2020
My sympathy to the family of E. Steeves Smith.
Posted by Pat Lebrun on November 9, 2020
E. Steeves was an extraordinary person. I was privileged to know and work with him on the Board of Regents. His intellect and skills as a leader were essential to the work of the board. I'm so sorry to hear of his death and send my sympathies to his family. He leaves a legacy of extraordinary service to South Dakota.
Posted by Anne & Arlen Moke on November 9, 2020
Our sympathy to the family.
Posted by Pat Wurster and son (Ricky L Wurster, 1968-1989) on November 8, 2020
Thank you E. Steeves Smith, for being the compassionate and great lawyer you were !! May you RIP, after such a well done job on this Earth !! Deepest sympathies to E.Steeves family his co-workers, and to all who will feel his loss!!
Posted by Bob and Carol Wagner on November 8, 2020
We are very sorry to hear of E. Steeves death. Our sympathy to his family and friends. Bob wads a classmate in Watertown and also in Law School.
Also participated in each others weddings. Many good memories.Rest in Peace.
Posted by Brent Knickrehm on November 7, 2020
I have many memories of spending time at the Smith’s house growing up as JB and I were friends throughout our school years. It was always a pleasure to talk to E. Steeves. I enjoyed stopping by his office to say hi. Prayers to the family.
Posted by Dr. Howell Todd on November 7, 2020
This news came as quite a shock. E. Steeves was President of the Board of Regents when I was employed as Executive Director in 1989. We spent many hours on the road during his time on the Board. As a Southerner naive to SD weather, he was careful to instruct me about black ice and blizzard kits. We shared a love of Mercedes and Mont Blanc pens! A most memorable trip was returning to Pierre after a Board meeting in Rapid during a blizzard. Steeves at the wheel of what we called "the Golden Rocket" was an adventure forever etched in my mind. He knew how to run a Board meeting, and once a decision was made, I never had to wonder whether he would "stick". A keen mind, a winsome personality, and a great conversationalist. One of the very best board members I ever had in my career. I miss him. May God's grace comfort the family and especially Mary, his right hand person.
Dr. Howell Todd
Executive Director, SDBOR, 1989-94
Clarksburg, Tennessee
Posted by Stewart & Jolynn Hanson on November 6, 2020
Our deepest sympathies to E Steeves family. Stewart & Dewayne always enjoyed working for the Smith family at their home.
Posted by Kay Schoenfelder on November 6, 2020
Sending sympathy to the family fir their loss. He was my Dad’s attorney for many years.
Posted by Kay Schoenfelder on November 6, 2020
Sending sympathy to the family fir their loss. He was my Dad’s attorney for many years. Great oerson
Posted by Darlene Dulitz on November 5, 2020
I never got to meet Mr. Smith personally, but my mother was his babysitter when she came to this country from Germany. Mom was obviously treated well by the family since she spoke about Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Stevie and Marcia for many years. Our sympathies to the family.
Posted by Martha Lang on November 4, 2020
E. Steeves has been my estate and tax attorney since I was 18. He helped me with a huge transition when my father died in 2001. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family and his long time secretary Mary Freeman. Steeves helped guide me in the right direction throughout my life, which I am forever grateful for. He always had great advice and will miss our conversations. Rest In Peace. With deepest heartfelt sympathy.
Posted by Lance & Patty Koth on November 3, 2020
I have fond memories or E. Steeves and considered him a mentor in many ways. Our prayers are with his family
Posted by Carm Roster on November 3, 2020
My sympathies go out to E Steve’s family and friends. I worked at the office for a short time but enjoyed busyness and variety. I especially enjoyed Steve’s taking politics and Vikings football. Special sympathy to Mary Freeman his longtime secretary who worked diligently to keep the office running smoothly and to keep Steve on track for court deadlines. RIP E Steve’s I like so many others will remember you kindly.
Posted by Mavis Anderson on November 3, 2020
We will always remember the love Steeves had for his dogs. With sympathy, Mike and Mavis Anderson
Posted by Pat reimnitz on November 2, 2020
Steeves was my attorney for a more than 20 years. He was brilliant, compassionate and just the best. My sympathies go out to Mary freeman and steeves family. May God be with and bless you all. RIP steeves.
Posted by Pat reimnitz on November 2, 2020
Steeves was my attorney for a more than 20 years. He was brilliant, compassionate and just the best. My sympathies go out to Mary freeman and steeves family. May God be with and bless you all. RIP steeves.
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