Home > News > Bill Steffy, 1933-2015

Betty Moody and Bill Steffy in 2013.

Bill Steffy (William George Steffy), beloved artist and mainstay of the Houston art scene, died this morning. He was 82.

Steffy was born in Moline, Illinois, in 1933. He studied at Arizona State University and the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, before settling in Houston in the late 1960s. Known primarily as a silversmith, his jewelry could be seen adorning many Houstonians, including his wife of many years, the gallerist Betty Moody, and his daughter Lee Steffy. One of his most remarkable pieces is a life-sized skull cast in solid silver.

The Moody Gallery is closed in remembrance of him until May 19.

A celebration of his life is being planned and we will update this information as we receive it.



also by Christina Rees
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16 Responses

  1. Ann & Bob Sandman

    We are so saddened by the news of Bill’s passing. He will forever be in our hearts. Great memories. Great talent. Our love to Betty, Lee, and family.

  2. Jack Massing

    A matte black El Camino passed me late last night
    As it crested a hill
    I knew it was Bill
    Honking as he drove out of sight.

  3. My father died when I was 23, and since then I have been on a mostly unconscious search for father figures – men after whom I can model myself and against whom I can test and gauge my own morality. Bill is one of those men. I have had the good fortune and privilege to know Bill and Betty since 2005, when Betty invited me to show my work in her gallery.The Bill I knew was formed in the old school mode – stoic, not given to inanities, mostly silent, but still able to genuinely smile – things I aspire to but have been mostly unable to accomplish. After a while in life, you begin to see how few people of real integrity there are in the world. Bill was, to me, one of those few. It’s worth quoting Eliot as an example of everything Bill was not:

    We are the hollow men
        We are the stuffed men
        Leaning together
        Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
        Our dried voices, when
        We whisper together
        Are quiet and meaningless
        As wind in dry grass
        Or rats’ feet over broken glass
        In our dry cellar

  4. Dan Allison

    I’m so glad I got to spend one last moment with Bill. It was one of the last cool sunny afternoons, and I had gone down the street to visit and check schedules with Betty. Bill was out enjoying the weather, in good humor, and just shooting the breeze as usual about nothing in particular. “How you doing?” …. “Not hitting the surf anytime soon” He was good with the world and it was good with him. A finer man I’ve never met.

  5. Michael Kennaugh

    I first met Bill, Betty and Lee when I moved to Houston in 1990. When Betty began to represent me in 2001, I felt like I belonged to a family. Bill was always at the openings and often I would find myself talking with Bill for most of the evening. Bill was kind, generous and always had a listening ear. I miss you Bill.

  6. sandie zilker

    When Bill left teaching jewelry at what was then call the Museum School in 1974 to concentrate on his own work–I was hired to replace him. It was apparently impossible. He had 4 or 5 full classes and when he left–all but one student did too! He set a high standard and was a legend in the Houston jewelry world. He was generous with a youngster right out of school and in his quiet way let me know we always shared a little piece of common history and a love for certain materials and processes. There is a show up at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft on the history of the jewelry/enamel department at Glassell. Two of Bill’s pieces are an important element of the show. Course of Action: 50 Years of Jewelry and Enamel at the Glassell School of Art

  7. Bill used to scare the crap out of me (!), until I noticed that twinkle in his eye. As I grew to know him better, I discovered he was one if the most sweet, generous, funny and, frankly, “stand-up” men I would ever meet. Glad to see this tribute. We’ll miss you, Steffy. Love to Betty & Lee.

  8. James Drake

    Bill and I shared many wonderful conversations – mainly about muscle cars, the state of the world, and sometimes art –
    I will miss him – he was an exceptional human being –
    My love to Betty, Lee, and the family

  9. Kim Steinhagen

    Beautiful photo of Steffy and Betty! Bill never said much around me, but I was always touched by how affectionately Betty spoke about him as a person and about his talent as an artisan (always referring to him as Steffy). Whenever he was nearby, she lovingly gazed at him, just as she is in the photo above. My thoughts are with you, Betty and Lee (and Willy the cat).

  10. Melissa Miller

    My deepest sympathy to Betty and Lee, Tracy, Adan, Leyla and the dear extended family that is Moody Gallery. I first met Bill when I was a student at Glassell School in 1972. From that time until our last encounter, I always knew I could rely on him for a warm smile, a genuine response to any inquiry, and some bit of wry humor. Steffy, we will miss you.

  11. Much warm consoling love to Betty, family (including the gallery roster, of course) and the multitude of friends and acquaintenances. Will miss the car conversations. Everyone will savor the incredible contributions he so ever quietly made to the Houston art scene. A Very wise counseling voice has passed.

  12. When I came to Houston in 1975, I had just graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in metals. The Houston metals community was smaller than now but led by the greats- Bill Steffy being at the top of the list.
    In my help in installing a show at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft a few weeks ago, I was able to handle a few pieces of Bills work–Amazing in craftsmanship and design. We so wanted Bill to be there with his fellow educators to celebrate. You will be missed.

  13. Liza Littlefield

    What a loss! Bill was a quietly fine man. My thoughts are with Betty and Lee and anyone else close to the family. Ride on, Bill. I can see him, my Lee and BB King riding off into the blue.

  14. I’m sad to learn of Bill’s death. He designed and made our wedding rings and would no doubt be pleased to know that almost 45 years later we still wear them with love and joy and thanks. He will live on in his beautiful designs.

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