Tribute of Gratitude for Mr. Sydney “Syd” Steele
With a heavy heart but with eternal gratitude for superb service rendered, we celebrate the magnificent life of longtime Center for Leadership Development board member, Mr. Sydney “Syd” Steele. Syd passed on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.
Syd’s regard and value for the CLD mission goes back to his longstanding friendship with CLD’s founding president, S. Henry Bundles, Jr. Syd was fully invested in CLD and has contributed in several ways towards the organization’s growth, uplift and increasing community impact. In fact, Syd was serving in the role of vice chairman of the CLD board at the time of his passing. When the CLD board agreed in 2007 to move forward with constructing a new headquarters, Syd served as chairman of the building committee and marshalled the project from the very first contractual agreement to the very last close-out meeting. His intellect, experience, knowledge and presence were invaluable. To this date, I often refer to CLD’s building as “the house that Syd built.” At the time of his passing, Syd was also spearheading CLD’s present expansion plans and was serving as chairman of this building project committee. This committee is tasked with leading CLD through plans to provide a new 20,000 sq. ft. addition to CLD’s existing building. He was committed to CLD in every way.
Syd also used his community network to support CLD participants. Each year, the Columbia Club hosts a fabulous celebratory dinner for CLD Alumni and their parents to honor CLD participants who have been selected as CLD Scholars by CLD’s higher education partners. As a member of the Columbia Club, Syd was instrumental in getting that partnership and scholar dinner established and served annually as one of the dinner’s financial sponsors. As a token of CLD’s gratitude for Syd’s many years and acts of selfless service, in 2010, CLD awarded Syd the S. Henry Bundles, Jr. Award for meritorious service to CLD.
Syd was the embodiment of distinguished. He was intelligent, charming, witty, eloquent, patient, and insightful. Yet he was calm and easy and bore a soft grin that said, “it’s all good.” He was a barrister in the purest sense of the word. His thoughts were clear, his judgment was keen, his tone and voice were always even, firm and assuring, and his integrity was unquestioned. Whatever the issue or topic, you always wanted to hear Syd’s input and reasoning. You could rest comfortably on his judgment and counsel. No matter the issue, he was quietly dignified and proficient.
For all who knew Syd, he was a gracious statesman, the epitome of class. He is truly unforgettable. While we will certainly miss Syd and all that he represented as a professional, community servant and fine human being, we will treasure fond memories and the blessed privilege of having known and served with him. CLD is a better, stronger, more effective organization because of Syd’s involvement in the cause. We will go forward forever mindful of his many tremendous but unheralded contributions to our youth and our city and forever grateful for his board service. When leaving a meeting or parting company, Syd would often say, “Peace and love, peace and love.” We honor Syd’s significant legacy and will make sure the contributions of this fine soul are forever retained in CLD’s memory. Thank you Syd. Peace and love.
-Dennis E. Bland, President of the Center for Leadership Development and longtime friend