Loretta Ann (Little Bird) Steere, age 86 of Joplin, died May 23, 2022 at Joplin, MO. Loretta was born April 11, 1936 in the Clinton Indian Hospital, Oklahoma. She was the second oldest of seven children born to Alfred Little Bird, Jr. (1914-55) and Lola Mae (Lee) (1917-2001) Little Bird. School was first attended at Colony, OK where her parents operated a café and farmed. After moving to Weatherford, OK the family relocated to Oklahoma City in 1945 where Alfred worked for the Borden Company and Lola was employed by Douglas Aircraft as a “Rosie the Riveter.” With the end of WWII, the family returned to Weatherford.
As a teenager, Loretta helped support herself by working as a waitress in the college town of Weatherford. After graduation from Weatherford High School in 1954, she continued to waitress while attending Southwestern State College. It was there that Bobby Steere, an Air Force veteran who had returned to Southwestern, courted and married the tanned-skinned beauty in 1955.
Occasionally presenting programs regarding her Grandmother Rebecca’s beadwork, many knew of Loretta’s Arapaho tribal heritage. Her father Alfred’s parents were Old Man and Rebecca Garcia and her grandfather Old Man’s parents were Little Bird and his second wife “Mrs. Little Bird.” Little Bird, a medicine man, was one of the original 18 reservations Indians who joined John Seger in his establishment of the historic Seger Arapaho Tribal Princess in 1955. Loretta’s matriarchal grandparents were Birdie (Boatman) and Martin Lee.
After marriage in 1955 by a Justice of the Peace in Chickasha, OK, the couple stretched Bob’s $110 monthly GI check by both working part-time at 50c per hour jobs and pulling cotton for 2c per pound on Saturdays. Twins Ricky and Vicki were born shortly before the young family moved to Las Vegas in 1956. Except for an interim at Logan, Utah where Patti was born in 1966 and Bob finished his doctorate, the family lived in LV until their move to Joplin in 1969. Son Keith Jon was born in LV in 1961.
In Joplin, Loretta continued to lovingly mother her children into adulthood while assisting in Girl Scouts and working for Welcome Wagon. Neighborhood children knew they were always welcomed at Mrs. Steere’s house. Later, she worked at the Children’s House and Newman’s Department Store. Loretta was a longtime member and officer of the Woman’s Club of Joplin and she tremendously enjoyed playing Bridge and the camaraderie of her friends.
Loretta traveled extensively. Each summer she and Bob vacationed with their children in various states. After retirement, the couple continued traveling the states, plus visiting seven European nations plus other countries exemplified by China, Vietnam, Singapore, Guadalajara, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Israel. That said, at age 73, Loretta refused to ride a cantankerous camel in Egypt. Special sojourns were when the couple were sailing guests of friends Judy and Jim Steele in the Bahamas and among the Virgin Islands.
In addition to her parents, Loretta was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Bobby F. Steere who passed away on April 19, 2019; a son, Keith Jon Steere; brother, Anthony Little Bird; sister, Wanda Leathers and her husband Bill; brother-in-law, Bill Bishop.
Survivors include her children, Vicki Ann Nelson and husband Fred of Hutchinson, KS, Patti Sue Steere of Joplin, and son, Ricky Bob Steere of Joplin; Grandchildren are: Ty Nelson of Las Vegas, NV, Dustin Nelson and wife Samantha Mehrotra of Minneapolis, MN, Nicole Nelson of Oakland, CA, Andrea Steere and husband Josh Wise of Sunnyside, NY, Spencer Pittman of Portland, OR, Jacob Pittman and fiancé’ Addison Ladd of Centerton, AR, and a great-grandson, Avi Nelson; sisters, Lorene Bishop, Janice Markum and husband Don Nikkel, and Rebecca Leonard and husband Steve; brother, Forrest Little Bird and wife Sandy, sister-in-law, Laquita Little Bird all of Weatherford, OK; several nieces and nephews.
The pleasant disposition and beauty of this loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend—will forever be remembered.
Funeral service will be Friday, May 27, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. in Parker Mortuary Chapel. A visitation will be held on Thursday, May 26, 2022 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. in Parker Mortuary.
Interment will be Tuesday, May 31, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. in Cheyenne Cemetery, Cheyenne, Oklahoma.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Alzheimer Association care of Parker Mortuary. Online condolences may be posted at www.parkermortuary. com .