ATHENS — 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, Athens.

Born Jan. 8, 1935, the son of Edward and Catherine (Zwickey) Steiner, he spent his childhood in the western Wisconsin village of Ellsworth, seat of Pierce County, dominated by dairy farming and Lake Wobegon-type culture. His local forebears, among the area’s pioneer settlers, included a great-great-grandfather, (West) Virginia-born Silas Poston (1832-1895), reared in Canaan Twp., Athens County.

In his senior year at the College (now University) of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota, Bruce won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, enabling him to undertake graduate studies in history at the University of Virginia. Receiving his Ph.D. in 1962, he joined the History Department of Ohio University. 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 Ph.D. program in history, as it eliminated subsidies for all other state-assisted history doctoral programs apart from OSU’s.

On July 28, 1968, Bruce married Catherine McQuaid, daughter of Francis and Florence (Adgate) McQuaid of Nashua, New Hampshire. Their nuptial Mass was celebrated in Galbreath Memorial Chapel, the late Father Francis Cronin officiating. First graduate of what then was Ohio University’s doctoral program in Comparative Arts, Cathy became a fellow faculty member, her final position being in the Interior Architecture Department, 1985-1999. The two shared an interest in early American decorative arts; they jointly produced several exhibitions and accompanying catalogs, including “High Style and Vernacular: Ohio Furniture, Decorative Arts and Craftsmen, 1800-1850,” staged at the Dairy Barn in Athens in 1988.

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.

Catherine (McQuaid) Steiner died March 28, 2004. Bruce’s survivors include their children, Edward Poston Steiner (Ted) and wife, Sunshine, of Stacked Stones Retreat in the Hocking Hills and Elizabeth Ruth Steiner and husband Egan Brumley of Alameda, California; two grandchildren, Betty Brumley and Sol Steiner; a twin sister, Betty (Steiner) Trollen, of Sun City, Arizona, and her five sons; a very special friend, Douglas F. Latz, of Chauncey; and two sisters-in-law, Frances (McQuaid) Kemp of Newport, Maine and Patricia (McQuaid) Eagar, husband William, of Eastham, Mississippi.

A third sister-in-law, Rita (McQuaid) Fallon, husband Paul, of Georgetown, Mississippi, predeceased him, as did his brother-in-law, Edward Patrick McQuaid of Dublin, Ireland.

Bruce was a longtime member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Athens and co-author with his wife of a history of the parish prior to the construction of the present church in 1895. His funeral Mass will be at St. Paul’s Catholic Church on Thursday at 11 a.m., with the pastor, Father Mark Moore, as chief celebrant. Burial will follow in Mount Calvary Cemetery. Friends may call Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at Jagers & Sons Funeral Home, Athens, where a Vigil for the Deceased will be held at 8 p.m.

Donations in Bruce’s memory may be made to any of these Athens-based charities: Habitat for Humanity of SE Ohio; the Pregnancy Resource Center; and Good Works, Inc.

Online condolences available at

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