Mr. Steere was known in the community for his compassion and skill as a veterinarian and his participation over the years in long-distance endurance riding, where he helped to establish many of the safety standards that govern the sport today.
A longtime resident of Petaluma, Mr. Steere died unexpectedly at his home on Aug. 3, 2010. He was 85.
"He touched so many people and was able to inspire you to do all kinds of things," said sister-in-law Sharon Bezuhly. "He was a very happy person who had a gentleness to him and a wonderful sense of humor. He was just a great person and a great horse doctor."
Mr. Steere was born in 1925 in Hollywood and spent his early years on a homestead in the high desert near Mojave, where he rode a horse to his two-room school in the hamlet of Rosamond. In the seventh grade, he decided to be a horse doctor.
He graduated from Colorado High School in Boulder, Colo., at the beginning of World War II and studied for a year at Pomona College in Claremont before serving in the United States Air Corps as a second lieutenant and radar navigator, flying B29s off the island of Guam.
Mr. Steere returned to Pomona College after his military service and continued his education at the University of California, Davis, graduating as a veterinarian in 1953.
In 1958, Mr. Steere was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the Royal College of Veterinary Medicine in Copenhagen, Denmark. By then, he was married and father of four children. He moved his family to Denmark, where he practiced large-animal surgery.
Returning to the United States at the end of his Fulbright Scholarship, Mr. Steere became an editor for American Veterinary Publications and started an equine practice in Santa Barbara. In 1964, he won a public health grant to the new Population Center at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, planning to give up veterinary work for academics and research after graduating with his master's of public health degree. U.C. Davis friend and classmate Bill Kortum convinced him to migrate with his growing family to Petaluma in 1965 to establish an equine practice instead.
In addition to his veterinary practice, Mr. Steere taught a veterinary technician course at Indian Valley College in Marin for more than 30 years.
In 2005, at 80 years old, he became the oldest man on record to complete the 100-mile Tevis Cup endurance ride, and in June 2010, he teamed with his son, Thom Steere, to compete in the Ride & Tie Championship, successfully completing the 19-mile course at age 85.
Mr. Steele was also a volunteer with Hospice of Petaluma for several years.
"He was a very busy man," said his wife of 32 years D'Ann Steere. "He went riding and worked out at the Redwood Health Club every day. He wasn't through with life. There were still things he wanted to do. He wanted to parachute out of a plane for his 85th birthday present."
Mr. Steere is survived by his wife, D'Ann; eight children; sister, Florence Fields; and grandchildren.
The family will hold a memorial celebration at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22 at Hawkwood Hill Farm, 1002 Chileno Valley Road, Petaluma.