Fishing 14

Peter White Steketee

May 7, 1940 ~ March 31, 2022 (age 81)


Peter White Steketee was born in 1940 to parents Paul “Jack” F. Steketee, Jr. and Marian White Steketee who both predeceased him.  Peter had one sister, Sallie Steketee Warner, who also predeceased him on January 21, 2022.  He is survived by her three daughters and several grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

Peter grew up in East Grand Rapids, attended East Grand Rapids High School and graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts in 1958.  After graduation he went on to the University of Michigan graduating with high honors in 1962.  He was a member of the ATO fraternity throughout his college years.  He became an avid fan of the University of Michigan football and basketball sports teams and remained a fan his entire life.  After graduation from Michigan, he continued his education at the Harvard Law School graduating with a J.D. degree and high honors in 1965.

Peter leaves behind a family grateful for his love and generosity: loving wife of 58 years, Joan Powers Steketee; children, John Steketee (Tina), Andrew Steketee, and Elizabeth Steketee (Mike Maloney); as well as six grandchildren, Charles Steketee (Kristen Withrow, mother), Jonathan (Jack) Steketee, Henry Steketee, Eleanor Steketee, Imogen (Emma) Maloney, and Benjamin Maloney.  He was devoted to his family and friends and will be greatly missed. 

In addition to his devotion to family, Peter was committed to fighting for the natural resources all Michiganders hold so dear, and he leaves a legacy of commitment to conservation.

Peter’s legal career began in 1966 at Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro in San Francisco.  During the four years he practiced there he handled oil and gas matters and was an active member of the Sierra Club.  He was instrumental in San Francisco’s urban renewal of Alamo Square, stopping the development of the Bolinas Lagoon on the San Andreas Fault and the development of parks in San Francisco. 

Over the time period of 1967 through 2008, Peter practiced with VanderVeen, Freihofer & Cook in Grand Rapids.  After his association with the VanderVeen law firm, Peter continued practicing law as a sole practitioner, specializing in environmental cases with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, and Scenic Michigan.

In 2009 Peter was awarded a Special Conservation Award by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) for work on the following:

*Bottle bill initiative

*Deregulation of DDT

*MDot – stopping wholesale cutting of roadside trees

 Capping the number of billboards in Michigan

*Consumers Power – stopping use of plutonium as fuel at their Big Rock Reactor.  As a  result of Peter’s work on the case President Carter issued an executive order suspending the use of plutonium. 

One of Peter’s greatest achievements was assisting the West Michigan Environmental Action Council in obtaining passage of the benchmark Michigan Environmental Protection Act of 1970.

In addition, Peter represented MUCC in the dispute over interpretation of the tribal Treaty of Washington of 1836 relating to Great Lakes fishing rights and inland hunting and fishing rights.  Peter spent over 30 years involved in this complex case which was not settled until year 2000.  The foundation laid in the 2000 settlement resulted in a 2007 Inland settlement that protects these resources and provides a fair use of these resources in the future.

In presenting the Special Conservation award, the MUCC described Peter as an extraordinary legal analyst with an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of the issue that was key in its ultimate resolution and his ability to maintain calm and perspective when emotions on this issue were very, very high… by peeling back the layers of those emotions to get to the real issues.

Peter gave freely of this time and expertise for fisheries, wildlife and water quality issues for many, many years.  A big thank you to Peter for his dedication, steadfastness, skill, and legacy of commitment to conservation.

Peter was not “all work and no play.”  He was an accomplished painter in oil and pastel for portraits, florals, and landscapes.  He enjoyed working in his art studio and experimenting with new techniques.  He followed in the footsteps of his grandmother, Sallie Hall Steketee who was a painter, and Helen Steketee.  In addition, Peter took delight in creating cartoons. 

Throughout his life Peter seemingly was never without a book in his hand.  He collected a large library of books, many of which were books signed by the author.  He had an encyclopedic knowledge of birds, flowers, rocks – geology, insects, astronomy, and history, much of which he loved to tell his grandchildren about as he walked the trails and wandered the woods Up North.

Perhaps fly fishing was the hobby Peter enjoyed the most.  He loved fishing for trout at his cottage on the Little South Branch of the Pere Marquette River and in Colorado.  He could fish for hours on end. 

Over his lifetime Peter enjoyed travels to San Francisco, Colorado, and Nantucket Island, Massachusetts with his family for vacations.

In later life Peter spent several years residing at Green House #2 in Cook Valley Estates, Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He exhibited a great sense of humor, was quick with a laugh, and entertained fellow residents with stories and jokes around the dinner table.

A private family ceremony is planned.  The family wishes to thank all the staff who cared for Peter during the time re resided at Green House #2, as well as Emmanuel Hospice for their special care and support of Peter.  Please, no flowers.  A memorial contribution may be made to either of the following:

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan

400 Ann Street NE, Suite #102

Grand Rapids, MI 49504


Addison Gallery of American Art/Phillips Academy

3 Chapel Avenue

Andover, MA 01810

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