Edmund Steiner closing in on his first century

Dennis Steiner (right) shows his father, Edmund, some birthday cards he received marking the occasion of his 100th birthday. ?My sense of balance is poor, but I should make it to 110 years old,? the elder Steiner says with a grin.Edmund Steiner of Hillsboro will hit the century mark March 18. Asked about his secret to a long life, he replied: ?I sure don?t know.?

But, overall Steiner said he is in good health.

?I need a hearing aid and I have trouble walking because of my knees,? he said, ?but I should make it to 110.?

Reminiscing about his life, Steiner spoke about the best day and the worst day.

?The darkest day was when our daughter was murdered in Topeka,? he said.

?My brightest day was when I won the Great Western Trap Shooting championship. I beat 153 other shooters in Wichita,? Steiner said.

Blue Aces

Always active in his community, Steiner said he enjoyed playing in the Blue Aces Orchestra as the saxophonist.

?It was almost a family band,? he said, ?with my two brothers and a sister playing piano.?

His first cousin, Ralph, played the tuba.

The group entertained at weddings, dances and even played on the radio.

One of the best moments with the band came when he said he ?whipped? Lawrence Welk in Marys?ville.

?Welk was playing in the Civic Auditorium and we played out in the country,? he said. ?He had 17 couples at his place and we had them hanging off the rafters.?

That was before Welk went to Hollywood and became a huge success.

?That night, though, we had a crowd and we beat his fannie I tell you.?

Father Kapaun

Another well-known person Steiner knew as a child was Father Emil Kapaun.

?We were in the same grade at Pilsen,? he said, ? and we both completed second and third grade the same year, and then (Father Kapaun) made eight grades in six years.?

As a child, Steiner said Kapaun was a perfect gentlemen.

?He wasn?t ornery or anything. There was nothing bad about him,? Steiner said.

When Kapaun was reported missing for almost a year, the community of Pilsen was worried about him, Steiner?s son, Dennis said.

?I was just a kid when we learned that he died (in Korea),? Dennis said.

Steiner and his wife, Mildred Vinduska, were together for many years, and he said he knew her as far back as grade school.

They had four children, but the two daughters, Marlene and Shirley, are deceased.

In addition to Dennis of Hillsboro, the couple?s other son, Terry lives in Lincolnville.

Steiner said he isn?t sure what the future holds for him now that he is close to making 100.

?What is left for me?? he said.

One of a kind

One thing he does continue to brag about is that he?s the oldest man at Salem Home.

?There have been women that age, but not men,? he said.

Along with his notoriety as the oldest man in the facility, Steiner also enjoys remembering his past accomplishments.

He was on a committee to establish St. Luke Hospital in Marion, served 22 years as a county commission member on the ASCS board, played saxophone with the Harmony Kings and the Ernie Palacek Orchestra in Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Other achievements included being on the board of trustees at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church for six years, coaching fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade girls and boys in softball and winning the best coach award with the Catholic Youth Organization.

His son Dennis Steiner said his dad continued to live on the farm until he was 95 years old.

?He was hauling wheat to the elevator until he was 90,? he said.

Steiner said he also liked to travel with his wife after they retired.

?We traveled from the east to the west coast,? he said, ?and I visited Chicago many times.?

His family is planning an open house for his 100th birthday from 2-4 p.m. March 19 at the Pilsen Community Center.

?Please, no gifts,? Dennis Steiner said.

It?s been an exciting life so far, but Steiner isn?t ready to stop living just yet.

?My sense of balance is poor, but I should make it to 110 years old,? he said with a smile.

Outliving his wife, two of his four children, his parents, siblings and many of his friends, Steiner continues to have a good attitude.

?I have to accept it as the way of life,? he said.

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