Eight Bells: Charlie Steigerwald
Published on December 3rd, 2020
Charles E. Steigerwald of Rocky River, OH passed away on November 30, 2020. He was 89 years old.
Charlie, the 5th of 7 raucous children, was born and spent his early years in Fairview Park, Ohio. Later the family moved to Lakewood, and it was at Lakewood High School that Charlie met the love of his life, Jane Sessions.
After attending college at Lehigh University, Charlie enlisted in the army, where he became a tank commander and instructor, and spent most of his service years from 1953 to 1955 in Germany, in the post-war occupation army. Already engaged to Jane, she joined him in Mannheim, Germany in March of 1955 where they were wed, and lived in a small off-base apartment until his tour of duty ended.
After returning to the states and buying a house in Bay Village, Charlie began working in sales, and the family expanded with three blonde-haired daughters. A job change moved them to Columbus in 1965, where Charlie eventually became a partner and Vice President of the Rimrock Corporation, a successful small manufacturing company that made equipment for the die casting industry.
Charlie was proud of the fact that Rimrock was one of the pioneers in bringing mechanization to the very dangerous die casting industry. He eventually left Rimrock and went out on his own as a manufacturer’s rep. As retirement drew nearer, he and Jane moved back to Cleveland in 1992 so that he could be back on “big water.”
Besides his family, Charlie had two big loves in his life: cars and boats.
He owned several Porsches over the years, although everyone’s favorite was his 1964 sky blue 356. He was active in the 356 Registry Porsche group, and often drove his blue Porsche to meets and rallies.
Of course almost everyone knows Charlie as a sailor, and he was the very happiest when he was out on the water. He did not come by this love naturally, as no one else in his family were boaters. He was introduced to sailing by childhood friends Joe Bennet and Chuck Cable, and was hooked.
At age 11 or 12 he bought his own Comet, and from there until the end of his life, he owned a series of sailboats – Yankee, Thistle, Windmill, OK Dinghy, T-10, and Concordia, as well as a few motor boats – his beloved trawler Pilgrim, and a couple of Lymans, as well as a couple of wooden rowboats thrown in for good measure. All of them were wooden boats, except the OK Dinghy, and if they had made those in wood, he probably would have bought one.
While living in Columbus, he was one of the early founders of the Hoover Yacht Club (now Hoover Sailing Club) on Hoover Reservoir. It was there that Charlie became an avid Thistle racer, and he competed locally and nationally from 1966 until the mid-80s. He was an excellent sailor and always fun to sail with, whether he was doing well or doing poorly, or just out for a pleasure sail.
Charlie won the Thistle Nationals with daughter Julie and Doug Laber as crew in 1972, one of his top sailing achievements. He also served as the Thistle Class president in 1976.
At Charlie’s invitation and encouragement, all three daughters grew up sailing Thistles with him, and were some of the few girls racing in the late 60s and 70s. The family spent summers traveling to regattas all over the country. His grandchildren still race his Thistle “Windlassie” – the third generation to do so.
Charlie loved to race sailboats, but he also just loved sailing and being on the water more than anything else. He was a member of the Cleveland Yachting Club from 1956 until his death, and always loved racing on Lake Erie, or taking off with his three daughters for a night sail to Kelley’s Island, 50-some miles away, or in later years just going out for an afternoon sail on his beloved Yankee “Dawn” or Concordia “Tina.”
The end of his racing career was happily spent with the crew of Chuck Gustafson’s Tartan 10, where he met Nancy Konrad, his good friend and companion for the last adventures of his life. One of his favorite vacation spots was sailing in the British Virgin Islands, and he and Jane made many trips there with friends and family.
Sailing in the BVIs transitioned to renting houses on St. John, USVI, where snorkeling and occasional sails were the activities. Several Christmases and Easters were spent in a large house with all the family together – daughters, in-laws and grandchildren – perhaps Charlie’s best vacations ever (certainly the daughters and grandkids thought so!).
Charlie’s faith was an important part of his life. As a child he attended St. Angela Merici church and grade school in Fairview Park. He attended mass every Sunday, whether at home, sailing in a regatta, or overseas for work. When he and Jane moved back to Rocky River in 1992, he became very active in the parish again, serving as a Eucharistic minister, on the parish council, and with the St. Vincent de Paul Society which works to end poverty through systemic change.
While he was physically able, he loved to ride his bike to morning mass. Until the pandemic closed things down, he still managed to get to mass every Sunday. Charlie tried to live his faith through his kindness and generosity. He shared his financial blessings, supporting many causes: several Catholic charities and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Cleveland institutions such as the Art Museum and the Orchestra, as well as Food For The Poor, Doctors Without Borders, and others.
Everyone who met Charlie Steigerwald liked him, and those of us that knew him well loved him dearly. He will be missed by many.
Charlie was predeceased by his wife Jane Sessions Steigerwald and father of Julie Steigerwald, Betsy Yingling (John), Ruby Steigerwald (Jamie Buss); grandfather of Kevin Degnan, Charles Yingling, Joy Yingling, Inez Steigerwald, Celeste Buss, Christina Steigerwald; great-grandfather of Moira Degnan and Edie Steigerwald; brother of the late Georgine Rhodes, David, Rosemary Scott, Marjorie Oatis, Paul and Jerome; uncle of many; former father-in-law of John Degnan.
Memorial contributions may be forwarded to Food For The Poor, Inc., 6401 Lyons Rd., Coconut Creek, FL 33073, or donate directly at www.foodforthepoor.org.