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Dr. Robert C. SteensmaNovember 24, 1930 ~ June 8, 2017 (age 86)
Dr. Robert C. Steensma, professor emeritus of English at the University of Utah and a retired Navy captain, peacefully passed away on June 8, 2017. He was born on November 24, 1930, the eldest of six children, to Anton and Martha Steensma in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He received his B.A. from Augustana College, his M.A. from the University of South Dakota, and his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky.
Dr. Steensma taught British and American literature at Augustana College, the University of South Dakota, Utah State University, and the University of Utah, from which he retired in 2001. He was a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland in 1971-1972. In 1990, he was selected as the English Department’s Outstanding Professor for Excellence in Teaching. During his career, he published five books and over 300 articles and served as president of the South Central Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, which honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. In 2007, the Dakota History Conference recognized him for his “distinguished contribution to the preservation of the cultural heritage of South Dakota and the Northern Great Plains.”
Captain Steensma served in the Naval Reserve from 1948 to 1983. He served on the reserve staff of the Supreme Commander Atlantic as Deputy Director of Contingency Planning, as a Blue and Gold officer for the U. S. Naval Academy, and as president of the Utah chapter of the Naval Reserve Association. Among his Navy awards were the Navy Commendation Medal, a letter of commendation from the Commandant of the Twelfth Naval District, and a commendation from the Naval Academy. While teaching at Utah State, Dr. Steensma met a beautiful young teaching instructor, Sharon Carol Hogge, who became his wife on September 5, 1964. Together, they built an extraordinary life and a strong family. He was a diehard Utah fan, rarely missing a football or basketball game in the past forty years. He was a proud father and grandfather who unconditionally loved and supported his children and grandchildren. But most of all, he was a devoted husband who adored his wife and loved spending time with her, whether traveling abroad, attending a symphony or play, supporting their grandchildren’s activities, or simply reading quietly together at home. She was the light and love of his life.
A lifelong member of the Lutheran Church, he is survived by his beloved wife Sharon, five children: Craig, Michael (Ginger), Laura Scott (Rodney Mena), Kathryn Thompson (Kyle), and Rebecca Milner (Sam), and twelve grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Don, and grandson, Brendan Thompson.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church at 1070 Foothill Drive. A viewing will be held at the Holbrook Mortuary, 3251 South 2300 East, on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and at the church Wednesday for one hour before the funeral service. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah. Guestbook to post messages and tributes for the family is available at: HolbrookMortuary.com