Tom Steiert


Just Like Dad
from his son Greg

Tom Steiert was a hard-working, family man, and a humble christian servant.

He joined the Coast Guard after graduating from Central Catholic and served during the Vietnam War. His siblings tell me how they all drove up to Seattle to meet him when he returned from the service, and how much fun it was to drive back in a station wagon with Grandma, Grandpa, 9 kids, 2 duffle bags and all the stereo equipment my dad brought back from overseas. I guess my electronics habit is just like dad. Apparently he is also a bit of a matchmaker, introducing aunt Kathy to uncle Mike.

Not too long after, my dad got a job, got married and started a family. He was always a hard worker. He worked full time at Freightliner while he attended college and supported his family. We didn’t have much, but he was able to put us through Catholic school, with our mom at home and we never went hungry. Sometimes with a little help from the extended family when there was a down-turn in the trucking industry. Even with a full time labor intensive job, he still found time to volunteer with school, scouting, coaching, the Elks, Knights of Columbus, or at Our Lady of Peace Retreat house.

My dad was always ready to lend a hand wherever needed. He taught us never to leave until everything is cleaned up, and to always leave the place better than you found it. I always enjoyed it when he would bring me along to help, for a Knights breakfast, the Elks Christmas baskets, and especially for the annual Our Lady of Peace BBQ. I remember before Holy Trinity let them keep their old chairs, we had to borrow one of Leonard Bernhardt’s stake side landscaping trucks to go fetch tables and chairs from 3 different parishes on Saturday, and then take them all back Sunday evening. Leonard did not have any problem loaning his truck because he knew he could count on my dad to take good care of it.

You could always count on my dad to be there when needed especially for the family. I loved working on cars with my dad. When I was in college I got an MGB and he helped me fix it up. One year at college I had the dumb idea to drive it 1000 miles to school in Pasadena. It made it down there without issue, but the ride back the following summer was more of an adventure. After losing half the muffler, and gaining a performance purr in Yreka, the alternator went out and the car died when the battery ran out of juice just south of the Oregon border. Fortunately, I traveled with a CB radio (just like dad) and I was able to get a truck driver to pull over and charge me up. I was stuck leapfrogging quick chargers at service stations until I could find a new alternator. It wasn’t easy finding an old british part on the weekend, but my Dad called around until he found one, then drove out to the warehouse to get it and met me in Eugene. We spent an hour or two trying to swap them in the parking lot before we realized that they gave us the wrong part and we needed a tow.

My dad could, and would strike up a conversation with anybody. There were no "least brothers" with Tom, everyone was a friend. He started talking to the tow truck driver while they were loading the car and then invited them to stop for dinner with us on the way back. Just another adventure with my hero that I will never forget.

Christian service has always been second nature to me. In our house it was just a way of life. My dad exemplified charitable service on a daily basis and it is part of our DNA. Just ask my wife, she gets a little frustrated trying to pull me away from an event. I don’t think she understands that I get a little anxiety attack if I leave before every chair is put away, but I’m working on that. I took for granted how special that was. When I graduated from Caltech, they recognized me with the Lucy Guernsey Service Award. I wasn’t expecting it, I didn’t think I had done anything special. I was only helping, just like dad would have done. If anyone deserves that award it would be him.

He went through a messy divorce, but found another woman who made him happy and got remarried. Fortunately she has been there to help him through some very difficult medical issues these last few years.

Growing up there was never any doubt that our father loved us and was proud of his children. Looking back I just hope he knows how much we loved him and are proud of him. I fear I didn’t say it enough, but I hope that I have shown it in my actions. I’ve been trying to follow in his footsteps all my life. I joined the Knights to be more like him, and I was Grand Knight of council 6266 just like dad. When I finally joined the fourth degree I decided to join Assembly 2481 here at St Henry’s, even though I lived all the way across town, just so we could have 3 generations of Steiert’s in the same assembly.

Tom had a gentle laugh, a contagious smile, was always joking around and gave great hugs. I’m glad that he was still smiling in his final days and several of us were able to share those hugs. We love you dearly and will miss you greatly, but we are glad that you can leave behind your earthly pain and join your parents in heaven. You were a hard working humble servant, may you rest in a well earned peace.