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David L. Steeno, 77, of Big Rapids

David L. Steeno, 77, of Big Rapids, passed away Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.  

He was born June 20, 1944, in Green Bay, WI, the son of Paul and Grace (Martell) Steeno, and graduated from Sheboygan South High School in 1962.  An amateur photographer, he developed his own film and captured many wonderful memories.  He even created a wedding album for his oldest sister and her husband. David served as a Blue Beret (Air Police) in the U. S. Air Force from August 1966 until 1970. He completed two tours during the Vietnam War and served as Chief of Operations of an 800-person security police squadron while stationed at Minot Air Force Base. 

Following his honorable discharge he attended Michigan State University, where he met the love of his life, Mary.  They were married in a small private ceremony in Midland in 1971.  David completed law school, went into private practice, and then transitioned into teaching. His career in education began at Illinois State and Western Illinois University. In 1986, David and Mary moved to Big Rapids with their children, Karen and John, so that David could accept a position at Ferris State University.  Both David and Mary served students at Ferris State University and the campus’ Catholic Church for many years thereafter.

As a professor of Michigan Criminal Law and one of the founding members of the Ferris State Law Enforcement Academy, David was passionate about providing a quality education for his students. He served the Ferris State Community for 25 years and became renowned for being able to cite complex case facts on demand. He was also instrumental in elevating the rights of citizens, training police cadets on implicit bias. Professor Steeno challenged the status quo whenever possible.

David and Mary were lifelong Green Bay Packer fans and attended many games at Lambeau Field as season ticket holders. David was very interested in Wisconsin sports, US and World history, astronomy, music, films, and books. He enjoyed spending time with his family sharing knowledge, learning something new, and telling clever dad jokes. He was a generous and thoughtful husband, brother, uncle, father, and grandfather.

Mary preceded David in death on August 26, 2016.  He is survived by their daughter Karen (Kyle) Oberhill and granddaughter Grace of Kalamazoo, MI; their son John (Chelsey) of Wyoming, MI; and his sisters Nancy (Dan) Behring of Onekema, MI, Cecelia (Jim) Pawlowski of Wisonsin and Colorado, and Kathy (Mike) Hardgrove of Fond du Lac, WI.  David also had and loved several nieces and nephews.

A Celebration of David’s life will be announced at a later date.  His remains will be laid to rest next to Mary’s in Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Big Rapids.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in his name may be made to The Wounded Warrior Project: PO Box 75817, Topeka, KS 66675.  Care and arrangements are entrusted to the Mohnke Funeral Home in Big Rapids.   Share a memory or express condolences at

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