Dee and Wilma Steininger

Dee and Wilma Steininger and their family

Who were Dee Gilbert Steininger and Wilma Weaver?

I can tell you that they were a hard working couple who grew up in the Great Depression. They were a frugal couple who did not spend any more that they had too. That was because they grow-up in rural Indiana and their parents were farmers and money was spent only on necessary items.

Dee was born August 14, 1912 in Rochester, Indiana and Wilma was born October 30, 1913 in rural Auburn, Indiana. Dee completed the 8th Grade in 1928 at the Auburn High School and Wilma graduated high school in the Class of 1931.

By 1930, Dee’s parents moved to rural De Kalb County, Indiana. Wilma Weaver and her family lived on a farm near the Steiningers. Dee was a pressman in Fort Wayne, Indiana working for the General Printing Company. After graduation, Wilma became a bookkeeper for Forest Gerig in Auburn, Indiana in his various furniture stores.

Dee Steininger and Wilma Weaver exchanged their wedding vows on January 6, 1935 in Auburn, Indiana.

The Steiningers started their family with the birth of Carmen Louise in February 1936. Marilyn Sue came along in December of 1937.

According to the regional directory, in 1937 and 1938, Dee worked for the General Printing Company.

In 1940, Dee and Wilma lived on a farm in Jackson Township, De Kalb County, Indiana. Dee still remained at General Printing Company.

The Steininger family grew by one more in September of 1941 with the birth of Rita Jean and then a year later James Dee came along in October of 1942. It would be six years before the last child of the Steininger clan came along. Ruth Ann was born in January of 1948. The family was now complete.

From the Garrett Clipper (Garrett, Indiana) dated March 1, 1945, on page 5

By 1945, Dee, Wilma and family moved to 302 1st St. Auburn, Indiana. Eventually, Dee would build a print shop at this location. All of the Steininger children were born in Auburn, Indiana.

A fire at the Dee Steininger residence at First and Union streets in Auburn late Monday caused
several thousand dollars’ damage, covered by insurance. The origin was believed to have been an
electric cord and the fire spread rapidly. Practically all the contents were destroye

According to the Garrett Clipper (Garrett, Indiana) on January 10, 1946

E.O. and Dee Steininger of Auburn, brothers, have acquired the St. Joe News from Mrs. Lor
Leighty, Widow of the late Fred B. Leighty, who was killed last month when struck by an
automobile. Dee Steininger has been employed by Messenger Corp. and his brother by Modern
Account System. They and their families expect to move to St. Joe.

St. Joe News Changes Ownership and Management.

Theodore E. Haberkorn has purchased the St. Joe News from Emmett Steininger and will assume
management on March 1. Mr. Steininger had purchased the paper from Mrs. Lora Leighty in
January, 1946, following the death of her husband.

According to the 1950 US Census, they still lived at 302 1st Street in Auburn, Indiana

According to the Garrett Clipper (Garrett, Indiana) dated July 3, 1950 page 3

Dee Steininger, formerly operated a shop. Dee has moved to Grabill where he is now publisher of
the Cedar Creek Courier, a semi-monthly publication. Emmett, with his wife and five children, will
move to Auburn this week to the home formerly owned by his brother.

According to the Garrett Clipper (Garrett, Indiana) Dated Thursday December 25, 1952 page 2

Former Auburn Woman Has Polio

Mrs. Wilma Steininger, 39, of Grabill, who resided in Auburn at 302 East First street until two years ago last July, was stricken suddenly Sunday morning with polio.

She was taken to the Lutheran hospital in Fort Wayne where she was placed in an iron lung. Her illness has been diagnosed as the bulbar type of polio. Mrs. Steininger is the wife of Dee Steininger. Her condition was regarded as serious Sunday evening, but she was reported as some improved on Monday.

The couple’s five children, Carmen Louise, Marilyn Sue, Rita Jean, James and Ruth, have not shown any signs of contracting the illness.

I had a conversation with Marilyn a few years ago. She shared that she went to Riley school for the first four years. The 5th and 6th grades were spent at DeSoto School. These schools were located in De Kalb County. The family moved to Grabill, Indiana and she attended school in Leo, Indiana.

I had a conversation with Rita Jean (‘Aunt Jeanie’ to my children) Schindler a couple of years ago. I asked her – What do you remember about growing up in the Steininger household? – Her response was ‘Strictness’!. She didn’t remember her parents being too affectionate with their children. She remembers that they we well taken care of – all of their needs were provided. One of the outstanding memories was that the family grew up with family devotions that were foremost in the mornings. As their dad got more involved with the print shop, they had to wait for the evening meal until he returned home. As with most large families, clothes were ‘hand me downs’ and toys were shared by all.

Rita Jean went on to say that the words ‘I Love You’ were not spoken very much. Growing up we knew that we were taken care of and loved, however, the words were not heard by our ears. It wasn’t until I shared with my dad that I had cancer that he shared that he loved me.

Ruth Ann was the youngest of the Steininger five children. Marilyn and Carmen pretty much took care of her when she was a little toddler. They all shared a room together growing up. Rita Jean and Jim had rooms to themselves.

Wilma was afflicted with Polio when the children were young. It was around Christmas time that she was eventually taken to the hospital. At the Christmas program that evening they held a prayer gathering for the Steininger family. Wilma was not expected to live through the night. The following morning Wilma had survived the evening and it was concidered a miracle. During this period of the 1950’s , the survival rate was very low.

I asked if her mom’s polio affected the family. Rita Jean responded that she took it very hard, in fact, she cried ‘an awful lot.’ She felt that Ruth Ann did not really understand the gravity of their mom’s condition. She was well taken care of by her sisters and grandmother during the time of their mother’s illness. The hardest part for Rita Jean was when her mother was in the ‘Iron Lung’ in the hospital. The children would take turns hold their mother’s hand. They would have to go through a little port hole on the side of the ‘Iron Lung’ machine. The nurse would put a finger over the breathing tube that their mother had in order for her to talk with the children.

Around Easter time, Dee told the children that he had a surprise for them. He said ‘I am going to pick up your mom today from the hospital’. Wilma was able to come home and an ‘apparatus’ also followed. . The ‘apparatus’ was used for her to get exercise and conduct therapy treatments. Rita remembered that it was on a Sunday.

The Steininger family lived in two different homes in Grabill, Indiana. One on the main street and the other that was located near the Mennonite Church in Grabill. Eventually, according to Rita, their father wanted to move to a farm with acreage. The owners of a home on Bishop Road wanted to move back into the ‘city’ and Dee ended up purchasing their farm and acreage. The Steininger family then made the move from Grabill to the farm around 1958. This ‘new’ home was located on the lower end of an eighty (80) acre farm. Their home became known to many as the ‘Green House’ because it was painted green.

After their mother recovered from polio, she worked as the bookkeeper for the printing business. By 1960, Dee Steininger sold the Cedar Creek Courier to Waldo Dick. Waldo had been working for Dee for about three or four years. In 1961, Dee then became associated with Witmer Pools.

An article in the Garrett Clipper (Garrett, Indiana) dated April 20, 1961

Witmer, Inc.
Witmer, Inc., manufacturer of over 100 component parts and fittings for swimming pools, is in it
second year of operation. The plant, located at 101 North Gulford street, was founded in Garrett.
Company officials state that after a year of developing its products the company is now in its first
full fledged operating year. The plant specializes in diving boards ranging from 4 to 16 feet in
length. Its portable board has been proclaimed by some to be the best on the market and is
growing in popularity. This particular board is designed for use on pontoon boats, rafts, boat docks
and swimming pools, yet can be carried in an automobile.

Employment at Wilmer totals seven. The company is beginning to take custom work for manufacturers outside the swimming pool industry in an effort to offset the seasonal aspect of its major products.
Wilbur (Bill) Witmer of Leo has resigned as president and general manager. The remaining
officers of the corporation are David Hogg of Fort Wayne, vice president; Ray Leininger of Fort
Wayne, vice president; and Dee Steininger of Spencerville, secretary-treasurer

That lasted about two years, and he went back to the printing. He set up a printing business in 1963, this time in Leo, Indiana. In 1967, Dee and Wilma took over a printing business in Decatur, Indiana. The owner was getting on in age and he decided to sell out. Dee and Wilma would travel every day to Decatur from their home on the Bishop Road in eastern Allen County. This daily routine went on for about three years. Dee eventually sold the Decatur print shop and went back to work for the General Printing Company. After a few years, Dee retired from General Printing and set up a print shop in his garage out on the farm.

In 1984, Dee and Wilma moved from the ‘Green House’ up the road to the former home of Ruth Steininger Marvel and her family. They moved to Midland, Texas. This ‘new’ home was better for them. The home had a basement and the laundry area that was located off the dining area. They eventually installed central air conditioning and built a deck that was located outside of the back door. This gave them a place to have family gatherings.

After Dee and Wilma retired from the printing business, they would spend their winters in Florida. They had an RV trailer located near ?. They did this for many years. Eventually, Wilma experienced side effects of her polio from years before. Unfortunately, one of her legs had to be amputated which left her in a wheel chair. After that, they were not able to return to Florida again.

Unfortunately Wilma Weaver Steininger lost her life on December 3, 1991 and Dee Steininger lost his life September 9, 2008.

Photos from the Steininger Family

Dee and Wilma Steininger’s 50th Anniversary Gathering

The Steininger Family