AB Steen Ė A Modern Engineer

by John C. Westervelt

As Hezekiah was a leader and an engineer in his day, so is AB Steen in our time. AB was a boy during the Great Depression of the 1930s. When he was ten years old, his family left the farm and moved to Warner, Oklahoma. Three years later they moved to Tulsa where AB would graduate from Central high school.

AB enrolled at Connors Junior College in Warner. As a walk-on, he played all sports. One of his coaches was Earl Iba (Hankís brother). After finishing at Connors, AB planned to find a job in Stillwater and enroll at OSU.

That summer Earl Iba called AB to say, "I am the new athletic director at Panhandle A&M in Goodwell, Oklahoma, and I want to offer you a full athletic scholarship." It didnít matter that AB wasnít sure where Goodwell was, his immediate response was, "Yes." He went on to letter in four sports each year.

AB was enamored by the beauty of the homecoming queen. He decided that Gwen, who was from the panhandle town of Boise City, was the girl he would marry. After graduation, AB accepted a job as coach of all sports and as the math and science teacher for a consolidated school. By December he had saved enough to marry Gwen.

At the end of the school year, ABís draft board told him it was time for him to serve his country, so he joined the Air Force for a four-year tour of duty. Upon returning to Tulsa, he began his engineering career. Within a few years he joined T D Williamson Inc (TDW), a privately held Tulsa engineering and manufacturing company serving the oil industry around the world.

When their sons were ten, eight, and three, AB and Gwen packed all their belongings, said goodbye to family and friends, and moved to England to establish a European office for TDW. Four years later they moved to Belgium where AB started the companyís operations on the continent. The family lived in Belgium for four years.

Back in Tulsa, ABís gift of leadership carried him through the ranks of TDW. He became President and CEO upon the retirement of the son of the company founder. After thirty-four years with TDW, fourteen of these as president with the last two as Chairman, AB retired and was followed in the office by T D Williamsonís grandson.

In July 2002 the TDW technology center was opened in Tulsa to serve as the training base for TDW employees and customers from around the world. Recently at a formal ceremony, the Williamson family dedicated the technology center to AB Steen because they hold him in such high regard Ė a trust earned by integrity.

ABís gift of leadership has led him to chair many committees over the years at Asbury. He has been a long-time board member of Tulsa Goodwill Industries, the Boy Scouts of America (a silver beaver recipient), the United Way, and the Chamber of Commerce. He currently serves on the national board of Alzheimer Association.

Looking back over all of ABís accomplishments both in his profession and in service to his community and church, I canít help but think that Hezekiah would be proud of his fellow leader and engineer.

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