Let me tell you about my friend Jim.
Recently, I lost a friend, an inspiration, a colleague, a person I valued deeply. Jim Steed was a giant of a man, in stature, in spirit and in heart. He loved to solve problems, to help people, to mentor and to teach. He was a loving, kind human being who often seemed larger than life.
When I speak to people about Jim’s passing, consistent themes emerge. They talk about how he was a great man, how he taught and mentored them, and how no one had more influence on their personal or professional life than Jim.
Jim began his career with SHP in 1956. He retired in 1998 as Chairman of the Board, but continued working for another 10 years as a consultant. In his career, Jim probably trained more architects than most universities. Truly the consummate lifelong learner and teacher, Jim knew that real learning began after the diplomas were handed out. He continued learning and teaching long after he retired until nearly the end of his life.
After serving in the Pacific during World War II, Jim returned home to pursue a degree in architecture at the University of Cincinnati where, upon graduation, he was awarded the school medal of the American Institute of Architects for the highest scholastic average and excellence in design.
Jim’s time in the military and in school resulted in many stories. Some were just anecdotes and others were life lessons. A consummate storyteller, he regaled his coworkers with his recollections and learnings — it’s how he taught each of us about what was truly important, whether it related to a project, client or simply the way we conducted our lives.
Jim’s was truly a life well lived. His legacy is one most of us could only hope to achieve. SHP’s DNA was shaped by Jim Steed. Every day, people go to work and school and live in buildings he designed. His family, friends and colleagues strive to represent the values he imparted. Those who worked with Jim endeavor to pass what they learned from him to others. And not just his practical applications of architecture, but his approach to people as well.
Jim Steed made the most of what life brought him – good, bad or indifferent. He was a remarkable man and we are grateful to have been a part of his remarkable life.
Honoring Jim is something we can all do personally by our actions each day. To create a lasting legacy for those who didn’t know him, SHP is establishing a scholarship fund in his name at the University of Cincinnati School of Architecture and Interior Design and will announce how you can honor Jim’s legacy in the coming weeks. Given his love of teaching, it seems the most appropriate way to remember and honor a life well lived. He was truly one in a million.