The Ancestor Project – Steven Ray Black by Micah Bach 

What is “The Ancestor Project?”
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As one of the final projects of the year, 7th graders at Erie Middle School were challenged to pick an ancestor, or someone else that they could research and learn more about, in order to write a story telling about their life. Students conducted interviews with family members, and some were able to gather additional resources and pictures to help tell their story. While there were many great stories written, not all will be published. 

This project was a collaborative effort between students’ history classes, with Mrs. Kruthoff and Mr. Armstrong, English class, with Mrs. Wolf, and their families. It was inspired by the original project that long-time English teacher, Mrs. Wiersema, made a tradition in her 8th grade class.

Students enjoyed getting to know more about their families, and many were surprised to learn how interesting their families were. We hope you all will enjoy their stories, too!

Steven Ray Black

  • Micah Bach 
  • Ms. Shabani
  • English 7th hour
  • May 1st


Have you ever wanted to live in the country and ride three wheelers every day, because Steven Ray Black did that? Steve is the best grandpa because he rode three wheelers, he worked for thirty-seven years, he owns expensive cars, and he doesn’t smoke.

Steven Ray Black was born on Nov. 15, 1964. His father was Patrick Ray Black and his mother was Lois Jane Jones. Steve’s siblings are Kristi Lashelle and Lisa Bormann. Later, Steve liked to fish, hunt, and ride three wheelers when he was young.

Steve grew up in Clinton, Iowa and went to school in Clinton. Then, Steve moved to Texas for a few years to live with his cousins, and he went to school in Texas and everyone would call him Boston Blacky, which gave him the nickname Blacky. Steve has never really liked sports but he has always liked driving. Steve went to drivers ed at fourteen years old, but he failed his first year because his teacher was a bad person. In his second year of driving, he passed it easily. When Steve turned sixteen, he had saved up enough money from when he was working earlier, so he bought a Pontiac Trans-Am. Additionally, after he passed drivers ed, he bought the Trans Am, and he was pulled over thirteen times in two months. He talked to his dad one day after getting pulled over, and his dad advised him to get rid of the Trans-Am and Steve agreed.     

He loved to fish with his dad and when his cousins came up to Iowa, he would hunt with them in Wisconsin. Steve worked at a funeral home when he was fourteen to make money. He also worked at Restrellis washing dishes and he hated it. Steve saved up coins to make a little bit extra money for when he grew up and he still saves coins.

In Steve’s adult life, he married Angie Black, and they’ve been married for almost forty years. Angie is the only person Steve has married. Later, they had two daughters, Susan Bach and Corinthia Black. Steve has had many jobs when he was young, but also many jobs when he was an adult. He worked at Target unloading trucks and loading shelves, but it got really bad because they weren’t allowed to talk much, which made him move on to working at Chemplex. He worked at Chemplex for a few years, but he mainly worked at the nuclear plant, and he worked there for thirty seven years. In the beginning, the nuclear plant was really bad and he had to work full face in rubber gear, and he said it was really hot, but later he got to work in a ventilated office. Later, his hobbies were fishing, a little bit of hunting, cars, and building things for himself and for other people.

When Steve saved up enough money he bought a 1968 RS SS big block Camaro, which he bought for about twenty thousand dollars. It was later worth ninety thousand dollars, but he made a bad mistake of selling it too early. Also, when he got married to Angie Black, he bought multiple cars in the same year. Adding to this, when his daughters turned sixteen he bought both of them brand new cars. When his daughter, Corinthia, graduated from school, she went on to get a degree for marine biology. 

In Steve’s later life he moved a lot. Steve mainly moved to houses that were either in Clinton or in towns near Clinton. He used to live in Erie for a little bit when he was younger, but then he left to move into a few other houses, but he ended up back in Erie. Steve was one of the first ones, if not the first to make good money in his family. He made his money by starting work at a young age and investing in stocks early and getting out at the perfect time. Every once in a while Steve has a really good chance to make a lot of money in stocks, but he ends up missing it or he thinks it’ll keep going up but then it goes down. 

One of Steve’s lifelong friends is John Krutoff, which is Mrs. Krutoff’s husband. Steve and John first met when they worked in the nuclear plant together. They hunted together in Alaska, Wisconsin and many other places. They would always go on trips together but they don’t anymore, but they are still very close friends. Another friend that Steve has is Dar. Dar is a guy Steve used to work with at the nuclear plant. Dar is hopefully retiring soon and we hope to go fishing with him. Dar has a lake that he lets me, my grandpa, and my friends fish at and he has some very large fish in it. Dar is a really good guy but people don’t like him that much. 

One of Steve’s hardships is that he lost both of his parents. He lost his father in 2017, because he hit his head and it did too much damage to him. He lost his mother a few months ago, because she had lung cancer, but she didn’t have it because she smoked, she had it because her parents smoked when she lived with them. Another hardship he had was his friend, Art, was mad at him and they were not friends anymore. Art asked Steve to help his daughter work on the Rise Up coffee shop, but Steve was really busy with everything else that had been going on, so he couldn’t help. Steve likes to spend his little free time fishing with me in the spring, summer, and fall. In the winter, we usually end up going somewhere to shop. Something he always tells me and my friends is to never smoke, never drink, never gamble, and never do drugs if you want to have nice stuff. He retired in January of 2022.

The reason Steve doesn’t get much free time is because he always helps everyone, because he is one of the only people with money, skills, and is willing to help. Steve has never drunk, smoked, gambled, or done drugs once. One lesson that he has told me and my friends is to never get a really nice car for a first car unless you have the money, always buy a crappy car, so you can beat it up. He also says to never get a rear wheel drive car, because if you go on ice with one you can easily slide off and crash. He also says to try something, even if you only like it a little bit.

Something I learned is a lot about his childhood. I see things better now because I know him more. I feel way closer because he told me a lot of stuff I didn’t know about his childhood. A life lesson I learned is to respect people you grow up with, especially if they’re older. I really liked the project, because it was fun to get to know my grandpa better.

Something Steve taught me is to help people out if they’re uninformed, instead of making fun of them. He also says to not let people be mean to you and to either tell someone or do something about it. Act nice to everyone even if you don’t like them. Some people are plain rude, so just ignore them instead of encouraging them to keep being rude. If someone is rude it’s almost never your fault.

After all, Steve is the best grandpa because he drove three wheelers, he owns cool cars, and he hates smoking. Some of the lessons he’s told me is to start jobs early to make extra money, work overtime to make extra money, smoking won’t help you at all, and to not be rude to people. I learned a lot more about my grandpa and how much of a good guy he is. Additionally, I learned that my cousin’s name came from my great grandfather’s name.

“The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world.  There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor.  

But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around.

It’s overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt.”

― Leo Buscaglia

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