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Published: Thursday, 7/17/2008

Perrysburg stadium was named in educator's honor

Robert E. Steinecker, 83, whose 31-year career as an educator was devoted to the Perrysburg schools, died Monday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township, from complications of lung cancer.

He retired Jan. 1, 1980, as high school assistant principal and athletic director.

Less than two months earlier, before the opening kickoff of a game against rival Maumee, he learned that the football stadium where he sat at the 50-yard line would be named in his honor.

"That was very moving for him," his son Thomas said. "He was very flattered."

Also in 1979, Mr. Steinecker was named Athletic Director of the Year by the northwest district of the Ohio High School Athletic Directors Association.

He told The Blade in 1979 that half of all high school students took part in some sport, from the usual to trapshooting and chess. He started 11 girls programs and increased boys teams from four to 16. "That's what he was most proud of, bringing girls sports into the system," his son said.

Earlier, Mr. Steinecker was a business education teacher and coached football, basketball, and track. He was Perrysburg city treasurer 14 years and a City Council member six years, both while working for the schools.

"He knew how to get things done," said longtime friend Wayne Leatherman, a former school board member and municipal court judge. "If he attacked [a] problem, he didn't quit until he saw it through.

"He was friendly, congenial, honest with a lot of integrity," Mr. Leatherman said. "That was contagious with people he came in contact with. He could inspire people to do more than they would have otherwise."

He was a volunteer for community and church. Notable in retirement was his work as president of Perrysburg Christians United to get a food pantry built, Mr. Leatherman said.

Mr. Steinecker was a 1942 graduate of St. Marys, Ohio, Memorial High School. He left Heidelberg College to enlist in the Army. During combat in Germany, he was shot in the leg. He received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

He was a 1949 graduate of Heidelberg and was the center on its undefeated 1948 football team. He received a master's degree from Ohio State University.

Surviving are his wife, Nelva Steinecker, whom he married May 27, 1951; sons, David, Robert, and Thomas; daughter, Cyndie Richards; seven grandchildren, and two great-grandsons.

The body will be in the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home after 2 p.m. today. Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in Grace United Methodist Church, Perrysburg, where he was a member.

The family suggests tributes to the Robert E. Steinecker Scholarship Fund at Perrysburg High School or the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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