James Duff Steptoe

September 01, 2009

MARCH 19, 1951-AUG. 30, 2009

James Duff Steptoe, who practiced law in Martinsburg for over 30 years, passed away at his home on Tuscarora Pike on Aug. 30; he was 58.

Mr. Steptoe, who was preceded in death by his father, Robert Mason Steptoe, is survived by his mother, Sarah Virginia Duff Steptoe; one sister, Sally Steptoe Hazard of Charleston, and her husband, Sprague William Hazard; two brothers, Robert M. Steptoe Jr. of Clarksburg and his wife, Mary Patricia Thompson Steptoe, and Philip P. Steptoe II of Martinsburg. Additionally, Mr. Steptoe is survived by the following nieces and nephews, Robert M. Steptoe III of Morgantown, Katherine Steptoe Fisher of Columbus, Ohio, Dr. Hannah W. Hazard of Morgantown, Dr. Sprague William Hazard III of Hershey, Pa., Charles Yancey Steptoe of Crofton, Md., James Glenn Steptoe of Martinsburg, Elizabeth Steptoe Smailes of Morgantown, Anne Pendleton Steptoe of Morgantown and Rebecca Nalle Hazard Dick of Pittsburgh. Mr. Steptoe also is survived by nine grand-nieces and grand-nephews, Dylan S. Steptoe, Sarah E. Steptoe, Robert M. Steptoe IV, Charles Hastings Steptoe, Miles Thompson Steptoe, David Blake Fisher, Lillian Sarah Fisher, Cooper James Hazard and Brandt William Hazard.


Jim Steptoe was born in Charlottesville, Va., on March 19, 1951, the youngest of four siblings. After receiving his primary education in the Berkeley County public schools, Mr. Steptoe graduated from Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va., in 1969. At Episcopal High, he received the Whittle Prize for academic excellence and was a member of the track and cross country teams.

Mr. Steptoe graduated from Haverford College, Philadelphia, Pa., in 1973. After working one year for The Peoples National Bank, in Martinsburg, he graduated from the West Virginia University College of Law in 1977. In law school, he was inducted into the Order of the Coif, which is the highest academic recognition awarded to law school graduates.

In 1977, Mr. Steptoe began his legal career in Martinsburg with the law firm of Avey, Steptoe, Perry, Van Metre & Rockwell, the firm co-founded by his late father, Robert M. Steptoe and Guy R. Avey Jr. In 1990, Avey & Steptoe merged with Steptoe & Johnson, the statewide law firm co-founded by Mr. Steptoe's grandfather. For the next seven years, Mr. Steptoe practiced as a partner in Steptoe & Johnson at its Martinsburg office. In 1997, he established his own private law firm and continued to concentrate his practice in real estate, banking, and estate planning and administration until his death.

In addition to practicing law, Jim was an accomplished professional musician. Taught the banjo by Andy Boarman, a renowned banjo player in the bluegrass genre, Jim started his musical career with "Mountain Grass." Shortly thereafter, Jim joined with Rusty Williams, Eldred Hill and Leigh Taylor-Kron to form "Patent Pending" in 1979. Over the course of 30 years, the band played over 2,000 shows in 22 states and recorded six albums.

Mr. Steptoe was a member of The West Virginia State Bar and the Berkeley County Bar Association. He served on the board of directors of The Peoples National Bank and was a longtime member of the Elks Club. He was a lifelong member of Trinity Episcopal Church, and as a young man, he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and was awarded scouting's God and Country award.

Jim's passions in life were principally three: his family, where he was adored by numerous nieces and nephews, as not just an uncle, but also a friend and playmate; his law practice where he practiced faithful adherence to the standards established by his late father and former partner, Robert M. Steptoe; and his music, which afforded him wonderful friendships and innumerable enjoyable and interesting life experiences.

Family and friends may call at Brown Funeral Home, 327 W. King St., Martinsburg, W.Va., on Wednesday, Sept. 2, from 5 to 8 p.m. A memorial service will be at Trinity Episcopal Church, 200 W. King St., Martinsburg, W.Va., on Thursday, Sept. 3, commencing at 11 a.m.

The family has requested that memorial contributions be made to Trinity Episcopal Church or to Boy Scouts of America, Shenandoah Area Council.

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