Our Namesake

James M. Steele

James “Jim” Steele was a believer in God, family, friends, and education for every child. A Roanoke resident and long time Northwest ISD supporter, he is remembered for his passion for the school district and its students, serving nine years on the Northwest ISD Board of Trustees.

Born on December 1, 1934 in Fort Worth, Texas, James spent his first five years in a small community near Fort Worth. He was raised in a Christian home, and his parents instilled in him a love of God, family, and education. That training led him to have a desire to do his part in making a difference in the world.

When James was 8 years old, his father was transferred to Baird, Texas, a small railroad town in West Texas. His dad worked for Texas and Pacific Railroad, and James loved everything about the rails. He attended a small rural elementary school until the end of his eighth-grade year when his father and the family were transferred back to what they called the “big city” – Fort Worth. James often talked about how hard it was to leave his childhood friends, but later he commented that his new friends were even better.

James entered the eighth-grade in the Birdville school district, where he met the love of his life, Johnnie, who five years later became his wife. In 1960, he moved his young family to Roanoke, Texas, after hearing from a business partner that Roanoke would be a great place to raise his children. After the family moved to their home located five miles outside of Roanoke, James and Johnnie immediately became active in the community. James helped with sports activities, and Johnnie volunteered to help the teachers at Roanoke Elementary. The family attended Roanoke Church of Christ, and later Byron Nelson encouraged him to serve as an Elder.

James attended Arlington State College and majored in business administration. He worked for his parent’s best friends in the cement contracting business. This job led to his desire to own his own business. He built and operated a concrete plant located in Haltom City. He then decided to buy a small country store located in Roanoke. An entrepreneur at heart, he bought property a few years later on Highway 114 and opened Steele’s Affiliated Country Market.

At about the same time, a group of parents from all over the district approached him and requested that he run for the NISD School Board. He began his service as a board member in 1975 and later served as board president. In his campaigns, he always stressed unity through learning, service, and leadership.

The Northwest Independent School District has always been a special part of the Steele family. James M. Steele’s two sons, Bruce and Brian, are Northwest High School graduates, and his wife, Johnnie, taught in the middle school for 24 years and recently retired from Gene Pike Middle School. James adored his two grandchildren, Chris and Tara, who also graduated from NHS. His great-grandson and namesake, Bryson James Steele, is in second grade at Kay Granger Elementary. Bryson recently reported that his school and teacher are “the best.” James’ other two great-grandchildren, Caroline Doshier and Brayden Steele, will eventually attend Northwest ISD as well.

It is the vision of community members like James M. Steele that has unified and shaped Northwest ISD into the educational institution that stands today … a determined district that prepares all students for their future by putting kids first and establishing high expectations.

“We are not to the top yet. Let’s continue to unite and make the climb together.”
James Melton Steele, NISD School Board Campaign Speech