In Remembrance of URF Friend and Supporter Bob Steiner

Categories: Winter 2020

Robert Steiner, known as Bob, fought off his prostate cancer for more than a decade. While doing so, he also supported the URF board as an ambassador-at-large. After a valiant battle with his disease, Bob passed away at age 81 in June. The URF wishes to express our gratitude and appreciation for Bob and honor his life and legacy. He will be greatly missed.

Steiner Anniversary
Bob and Penelope Steiner were married for 51 years, shown here on their 50th anniversary. Penelope shared their story with Quest in September.

When he was about 70 years old, Bob’s routine PSA test came back elevated. Subsequently, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and unfortunately it had already spread out of his prostate. “His cancer was very severe,” his wife Penelope Steiner said. “It’s an insidious disease. But he did credit his internist with saving his life.”

At first, Bob planned to undergo robotic surgery to treat the cancer. However, he heard about Dr. Catalona’s expertise in the nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy and scheduled an appointment to discuss treatment. Because Bob’s cancer was aggressive and had already spread beyond the prostate, Dr. Catalona did not feel he was a candidate for the nerve-sparing procedure. However, he counseled Bob and Penelope on some various treatment options and offered case studies on patients who had taken those routes.

This appointment was the start of a longstanding relationship of mutual respect. While Dr. Catalona never operated on Bob, they got to know each other well through Bob’s role as ambassador-at-large at the URF. “Dr. Catalona was a visionary for Bob and stayed in his life,” Penelope said. “Bob never made any decisions [about his treatment] without running it by Dr. Catalona first.”

After the first appointment with Dr. Catalona, the course of action that Bob and Penelope chose was hormonal therapy and radiation. He underwent this cycle of treatment three times over 11 years, each time targeting the disease progression. Penelope said that the number of years that this treatment prolonged Bob’s life was “record breaking regarding how long he lived” with the disease.

The treatment was hard, but Bob and his family had “a lot of quality time in these years,” Penelope said. Bob remained alert until the very end of his life. “We were blessed,” Penelope said. “Nothing was left unsaid, nothing undone.”

Steiner Kids
Bob and Penelope’s children, Nicole Louise and Robert, Jr., celebrated the couple’s 50th anniversary.

A strong family life

The Steiner’s home is in downtown Chicago. They have two grown children who also live in Chicago, Nicole Louise and Robert M. Steiner, Jr. Their first grandchild, named Robert Charles, was born this summer, just a few weeks after Bob passed away. Penelope is close with her children. They have been able to support each other at this time of loss.

Bob and Penelope met in the 1960’s through a mutual friend in Chicago. They went out to dinner as a

group, and Bob and Penelope connected on an intellectual level right away. They began dating a few months later and were wed within a year. “I had it all,” Penelope said. She is grateful that she and Bob had so many good years together and had a solid foundation to their marriage. “Our relationship was really a refined one. Our marriage became greater than the sum of its parts,” Penelope said.

Successful, self-made career

Bob was a first-generation American, the son of immigrants from the Czechoslovakia/Hungary region. His parents owned a small department store and instilled their principles of hard work in Bob. Bob began honing his business and entrepreneurial skills from a young age. When he was five years old, he started his first business: a comic book library at which he rented comic books to neighborhood children for a penny.

Bob worked hard at school and was a self-made man. He earned his bachelor’s degree and his MBA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “He was brilliant at math, brilliant at predicting the market,” Penelope said. For 50 years, he ran his own mutual fund. “Nobody left his fund,” Penelope said,” which means they all fared very well.” Bob continued working throughout the course of his treatment for prostate cancer.

Giving back

Steiner Wedding
Bob and Penelope on their wedding day.

Bob and Penelope believe strongly in giving back and have both been very involved in charities. “We’re philanthropic, and have always been that way,” Penelope said. “We felt that to much has been given, much is expected.”

Penelope is very involved in supporting the arts in Chicago, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Also, for the last 14 years she’s been writing movie reviews on her own blog, called Peneflix.

In addition to supporting and advising the URF, Bob was very involved in the Posse Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to identifying, recruiting, and training a diverse group of students with leadership potential. Scholars who participate in the program receive full-tuition scholarships. Bob was honored by the Posse Foundation in 2010.

The URF board and Dr. Catalona wish to express the deepest admiration for Bob’s time spent as ambassador-at- large, and much gratitude for of the talent, counsel, and support he gave the URF over many years.

Bob was highly intelligent, witty, down to earth, an amazing raconteur, and made everyone feel more alive when he was in the room. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the 1950s Chicago White Sox teams and their American League rivals and also could entertain you with Chicago Bulls lore, especially during the bygone “golden days.” He was so attentive to his surroundings that others wanted to be there with him and Penelope for the ride. The Steiners were well versed in the Chicago restaurant scene and frequently arranged many wonderful dinners for the URF Board meetings over the years. Above all, Bob was a devoted husband, father, and friend. He retained his mental faculties until the end, and we miss him.
-Dr. William J. Catalona and Jan Catalona

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