One of region’s oldest residents dies at 104Published 10:17am Wednesday, November 14, 2012
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
FRANKLIN—One of Western Tidewater’s oldest residents died Thursday.
George K. Steinbach of Fairview Drive in Franklin was 104. He would have been 105 on Jan. 29.
Kathy Wright with Wright Funeral Home in Franklin, which handled the arrangements, couldn’t say that Steinbach was the oldest in the region.
“But he was up there, all right,” Wright said.
About the same time Steinbach left this world, his fifth great-great-grandson Owen George Taylor was born to Amanda and Phil Taylor of St. Louis.
“Circle of life,” his daughter Georgia Williams said.
Independent-minded, Steinbach remained in his home until his death. He enjoyed a beer at lunch and a glass of 18-year-old scotch almost every other day at 6 p.m.
He stayed alone at night up until six months ago. At 103, he gave up push mowing the lawn and still drove at 102.
“He often said, ‘I wish I’d never gotten rid of my car,’” Williams said.
“His driver’s license would have expired in January,” added his son, Roger Steinbach. “He never looked his age. There was nothing wrong with his eyes. The last time he had the license renewed, no one said anything.”
He was married to his wife, Frances, for 77 years. She died at 94 in 2008.
Steinbach’s three children attribute their dad’s long life to keeping busy.
He always had a plan, a goal, they said.
They reminisced about their forward-thinking dad who was buried Sunday in Poplar Spring Cemetery.
Steinbach had many interests.
“He was always an active man, although he slowed down in his age,” said daughter Shirlie Camp. “He had a great interest in reading and would read aloud. He was an avid reader of fact, such as President John Adams or real Indians, cowboys and cattle. He did not like fiction.”
“He absolutely loved baseball,” said Mary Britt, one of Steinbach’s four caretakers.
The Baltimore Orioles was his favorite and he had a team logo on his baseball cap. Steinbach would often watch baseball on TV with one of his granddaughters’ husbands.
Although he quit high school after two days to go to work, Camp and her siblings would take their homework questions to him.
“We went to daddy. He knew it anyway,” Camp said. “He was the smartest man I ever knew.”
Steinbach came to the area from his hometown of Tomahawk, Wis., to make paper with Chesapeake Camp, which later developed into Union Camp Corp.
“He saw the first roll of paper coming off the rollers,” said Camp.
By 1973, Steinbach had retired as pulp mill and wood yard superintendent for Union Camp Corp.
Steinbach always intended to return to his woodworking shop and build things. He built furniture for the grandchildren, such as beds when they got married.
His wife’s passing was hard.
“It took him six of the hardest months to get over that,” said Camp. “We didn’t think he was going to make it. But he moved forward and pulled himself up. He also mourned terribly when he lost his dog, Chili Bean.”
After his usual breakfast of Shredded Wheat with bananas on Thursday, Steinbach fainted trying to do breathing treatments, but quickly revived. Britt and other family members were taking him to the doctor when he died.
Britt was shaken.
“At the car door, he collapsed in my arms,” she said. “Later I was so distraught, I accidentally burned my own kitchen.”
“He wore out. It was his heart, really,” Camp said as to the cause of death. “He was really together. Giving orders right to the end. It was very quiet and no discomfort.”
“He loved his family, and the special people who visited with him on a regular basis,” she continued. “He worried about everyone and always asked everyone what they were doing.”
“I know we all remember that daddy always carried the babies,” Camp said. “If they cried, he’d carry them until they quieted down.”
Elsewhere in Western Tidewater, Mary Bingham of Tandem Health Care in Windsor will turn 107 on Nov. 25.