John Francis (Jack) Steineger, a third-generation resident and lifelong supporter of Wyandotte County, who as a State Senator earned statewide recognition for his environmental efforts, died May 1 of natural causes. He was 87. Mr. Steineger served as a State Senator from Wyandotte County from 1964 to 1992, helping to pass the first state air pollution law and establish the Tallgrass Prairie as a natural preserve. He was named Conservation Legislator of the Year by the Kansas Wildlife Federation in 1974 and was honored with a 1975 Air Conservation Award by the Kansas Wildlife Federation for "outstanding contributions to the wise use and management of the nation's natural resources." He was selected Outstanding State Senator by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University in 1972 and served as Senate minority leader from 1976 to 1988. In 1982, he received a Legislative Improvement Award from the Ford Foundation. "The knowledge and the friendship of a public servant who was as dedicated as Jack to his constituents in Wyandotte County and who so exemplified that through his actions is something I treasure to this day," said Edward F. Riley, retired chair of the U.S. Parole commission and former State Senator from Leavenworth, who was a close friend from the days he served with Mr. Steineger in the State Senate. "He was able to sponsor and get adopted legislation related to pari-mutuel issues and liquor by the drink that was progressive in the state of Kansas and resulted in the immense development that is still ongoing today in Wyandotte County. The city of Kansas City is what it is today because of his efforts." In 1949, Mr. Steineger married Margaret Ruth Leisy of Dallas. After a honeymoon in New Orleans, they moved to Washington D.C. where he served in the office of the U.S. Department of Labor. He was a member of the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Corps from 1950 to 1958, serving as a cultural attach in first Germany and later Iraq. His service allowed him to travel extensively in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. He returned to Wyandotte County in 1957 and joined the Finigian, Poizner and Tucker law firm before opening his own law office, Steineger and Reid, in 1963. He served as a Juvenile Court Judge in 1958 and Wyandotte County Chief Prosecutor in 1960. He served on the boards of many civic organizations, including as president of People-to-People and the Kansas City Ballet Association. He served on the Council of State Governments Intergovernmental Relations Committee, the Kansas Arts Commission, the Kiwanis Youth Committee, the Boy Scout Board, and the American Royal Association. He received numerous awards and honors from many clubs and organizations. Mr. Steineger graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1942 and attended the University of Southern California in 1942-43, but his education was interrupted by World War II. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1943 and was a commissioned ensign by the end of his service in 1946. While in the Navy, he completed Midshipman's School. After the war, he enrolled at the University of Kansas and joined the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He earned a bachelor's degree and a Doctor of Laws in 1949. He was a lifelong supporter of KU. Mr. Steineger was an avid skier, tennis player and sailor. For many years, he owned a succession of sailboats that were moored in the Caribbean Islands, where he sailed extensively. He also sailed in the Mediterranean and on the Eastern Seaboard. He enjoyed gardening and especially loved the springtime, when Wyandotte County flowers were in bloom. Mr. Steineger leaves his wife, Margaret, of 62 years, sons John and Sen. Chris Steineger, daughters Cynthia Steineger Blair and Melissa, and grandchild Kisha. He was preceded in death by his parents, John F. Steineger and June Wear Steineger. Visitation will be 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 6, at the Joseph A. Butler & Son Funeral Home, 19th and Minnesota Ave., Kansas City, Kan. Graveside services will be at 3 p.m. Monday, May 7 at the Highland Park Cemetery. A memorial service will follow at 4 p.m. and reception at 5 p.m. at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 1300 N. 18th St., Kansas City, Kan. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Grinter Place Friends, 1400 S. 78th St., KCK 66111, St. Paul's Episcopal Church or other Wyandotte County organization. (Arr.: Joseph A. Butler & Son, 913.371.7000; butlerandsonfuneralhome.com)
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Published in Lawrence Journal-World on May 5, 2012