September 10, 2019 at 2:11 pm

University Community Remembers Colleague Dr. Bruce Steiner, Professor Emeritus of History

Bruce Steiner, portrait

Dr. Bruce Steiner

Dr. Bruce Edward Steiner, Professor Emeritus of History at Ohio University and a longtime resident of Athens, died Saturday evening, July 13, 2019 at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital in Athens, according to his obituary.

“Bruce was an old-fashioned OU patriot, who loved the university and the college greatly but the History Department above all. He thought the department was something worth fighting for and he relished the fights, past and present, to defend a department he’d done so much to help build,” said Dr. Robert Ingram, Professor of History.

“For nearly two full decades after his formal retirement and as he physically was breaking down, he volunteered his time doing things big and small, but almost always unseen, for the department. Iron-willed, sharp-elbowed, tart-tongued, ever-cheerful, gently mannered, endlessly loyal and puckishly hilarious all at once, he was a great friend to many, including to younger faculty members. Those of us who were his friends miss him greatly,” Ingram added.

“I have known no faculty member more devoted to his department, college and institution. Long after retirement, he continued to work as a ‘volunteer’ with the History chair, and was always interested in trends and developments in the university with a view to preserve and develop his beloved History department,” noted Dr. David Drabold, Distinguished Professor of Physics & Astronomy.

“I became a friend of Bruce mostly in the last decade or so. In fact, he and I have a paper in press (not on Physics or History, but rather Genealogy!). He had a brilliant command of the literature and understanding of the colonial US that made him a wonderful collaborator.

“Right until the end, he kept a youthful charm and humor despite physical challenges that he bravely faced. He was an inspiration to many,” Drabold added.

Steiner joined the History Department at OHIO in 1962, according to his obituary:

There his teaching, full-time and later part-time, and centered on the Colonial and Revolutionary periods of D.S. history, spanned a full half-century (1962-2011). His publications primarily explored the disintegration of New England Puritanism and the emergence of a distinctive Anglicanism as a resulting fragment,” .

An original member of the Faculty Senate, Bruce served as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, 1972-1977, then returned to the History Department. Chair of the department, 1987 -2000, he directed a rebuilding of its enrollment and facilitated the creation of the Contemporary History Institute. He likewise guided the effort which resulted in the Board of Regents continuing its state subsidy for OU’s niched PhD program in history, as it eliminated subsidies for all other state-assisted history doctoral programs apart from OSU’s.

… In retirement, Bruce did volunteer work for the History Department. An opponent of capital punishment, he often joined the late Art Gish and others at the Athens courthouse during Ohio executions, having first arranged for the bell of St. Paul’s to toll throughout these demonstrations. His pro-life stand likewise dictated his work with the Athens Pregnancy Resource Center. An active member for many years of its Board of Directors, he served as the PRC’s Vice President but, for reasons of health, declined the Presidency. He also was a chief supporter of the ministry to Hispanic migrant workers of the Diocese of Steubenville, working with Father Walter Heinz, then of Sacred Heart Church, Pomeroy, from the time when that ministry was largely confined to Meigs County.


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