Dr. Donald Steinberg, a retired surgeon who was on the forefront of screenings for early detection of cancer and a member of the 1942 Ohio State University football team that won the national championship, died Monday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg Township. He was 90.
Dr. Steinberg, who had been a patient in hospice for several days, died from congestive heart failure, said his son, Dan Steinberg.
Dr. Steinberg was a member of the Ohio State University team coached by the late Paul Brown that went 9-1 and finished No. 1 in the polls in 1942.
In the early 1990s, Dr. Steinberg wrote a book about the team called “Expanding Your Horizons: Collegiate Football’s Greatest Team." The self-published book chronicled the success of the 1942 team and the accomplishments that many of the players had later in life and how many became leaders in their fields of work.
Mr. Steinberg said his father wrote in his book that his teammates achieved success because of the influence of Coach Brown.
The college honored Dr. Steinberg and his remaining living teammates in 2002 by awarding them rings to recognize the 1942 national championship.
Dr. Steinberg was an end on the Buckeyes team from 1941 to 1943 and returned to the team in 1945 after serving in the Army during World War II. He was named the Big Ten’s outstanding scholar-athlete in 1945.
Dr. Steinberg was a surgeon in general practice in Toledo for nearly 40 years, starting his practice in 1954. Mr. Steinberg said his father was based at Riverside Hospital in North Toledo, but also practiced at other hospitals.
Dr. Steinberg was among the first area physicians to push for early screenings to detect hidden blood in stools, which can be an early indicator of colon and rectum cancers, and the use of home testing kits called the Heme-Occult test. During the 1980s, he was director of the area Heme-Occult program, which was located at Riverside Hospital.
“He promoted the screenings to detect cancers,” Mr. Steinberg said.
Dr. Steinberg’s expertise in the program landed him national recognition as he was featured twice as a guest on NBC’s Today Show.
His son said he also researched and studied peritonitis and received recognition for his work in three medical publications.
“He was always doing research on different ways to help people,” Mr. Steinberg said.
Dr. Steinberg was married twice. His first wife, the former Lois Treuhaft, who he married in 1953, died in 1968.
He married the former Janet Green Ertis in 1971.
Dr. Steinberg was born Aug. 12, 1922, in Toledo to Sarah and Julius Steinberg. His grandfather was Rabbi Isaac Shapiro, the first orthodox rabbi in Toledo. The youngest of 11 children, he graduated in 1940 from Scott High School, where he excelled in football, basketball, and baseball.
Following his graduation from OSU’s school of medicine in 1946, he did an internship at the former Receiving Hospital in Detroit and re-entered the military as a captain in the Army Medical Corps.
He completed his residency in general surgery at Downstate Medical School in Brookyn, N.Y., from 1949 to 1954.
Mr. Steinberg said that many of his father’s patients were low-income and on Medicaid.
“He was a doctor in the purest sense of the word. He was there to help people. It was never about money,” he said.
Three of Dr. Steinberg’s four brothers went into medicine. Dr. Abe Steinberg, who died in 2000, was a obstetrician and gynecologist, the late Dr. Morton Steinberg was a dentist, and Dr. Raymond Steinberg is a retired surgeon.
Surviving are his wife, Janet; sons, Steve and Dan; daughters, Laurie Mandel and Stephanie Sobel; brother, Raymond Steinberg; sister, Belle Swartz; sixteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Services will be at 11 a.m. today in Congregation B’nai Israel in Sylvania.
The Robert H. Wick/Wisniewski Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
The family suggests tributes to Congregation Etz Chayim or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.
- Mark Reiter