Leola “Lee” Caroline Steinberg passed away peacefully at her home on December 25, 2020 from lung cancer.
Lee was born September 18, 1934 to John and Elsie Schmidt in Lake Benton, Minnesota. She was baptized October 14, 1934 at St. John’s Lutheran Church. She was later confirmed at the same church on March 21, 1948. Lee was raised on a farm that, as she puts it, had a “little of everything.” She was raised with two brothers and one sister.
Lee attended country school Dist. 57 through 7th grade and graduated from Lake Benton Public School in May of 1952 as Salutatorian of her class. She was active in high school as a cheerleader for the Lake Benton Bobcats, participated in band and choir, and was a class officer. She attended one year of college in Mankato before marrying James (Jim) Steinberg on June 28, 1953 at St. John’s Lutheran Church.
Lee carried a strong work ethic with her throughout her life. During High School and College she worked as a waitress at various Lake Benton Restaurants. After moving to Montana with Jim, Lee worked at Western Wholesale Grocery, Weick Agency, Buttreys, Safeco Ins., Landa Agency, and retired from Terry Payne and Company after 13 years of service. Over the years Lee proudly compiled a box of awards she earned for her hard work and loyalty.
Lee took pride in her role as an active mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She never let her age get in the way of an adventure and was open to trying anything at least once. Lee taught her granddaughters how to do cartwheels, spent a summer hiking the Selway Bitterroot wilderness with her grandson Scott as he worked on his published hiking guide, and had sleepovers on the trampoline with her great grandkids until she was 85. Lee participated in many community fun runs over the years with her children and grandchildren, eventually compiling a quilt from all of the tee shirts she earned. Enjoying time with her family is where her heart was, and she had enough love for everyone. Lee was the first person to set up a card or board game for family or friends to gather around, taking the time to make sure everyone knew the rules and could play. She was the smile and hug that everyone looked forward to when it was time to gather. Quick with a joke, her laugh and smile were contagious. She knew when to hug and when to teach, and that is something her family will miss greatly.
In her free time Lee enjoyed gardening, quilting, church activities, and traveling with her sister and best friend, Barb. Over the years the two traveled to San Francisco, Arizona, Florida, New York, Hawaii, and Mexico. During their travels the sisters shared many adventures including skydiving, hot air ballooning, and getting matching tattoos.
Lee was a woman of faith and an active member of First Lutheran Church in Missoula. She taught Sunday School for many years and participated in multiple church affiliated groups including LWML and choir. She carried her faith in everything she did, never passing judgement in any way, shape, or form.
Lee is preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Jim; her big brother, Eldon, and his wife, Marjorie; her brother-in-law Bob; her grandson Adam; her walking partner and neighbor of many years, Donna; and many other family and friends. She leaves behind her three children: Deborah, Mike (Jill), and Rick (Lois); her grandchildren: Scott (Erin), Jessica (Eric), Megan (Jeff), Sara, and Emily (Ben); great grandchildren Isabella, Adler, Gracie, Harper, and Laelia; her sister and best friend, Barb, her brother Russ (Heidi); and many other close friends and family members in the Lake Benton and Missoula areas.
Lee’s granddaughter found a handwritten notecard hanging in her apartment that reads “Grace is when God gives you what you don’t deserve, and mercy is when God doesn’t give you what you do deserve. People will forget what you did. People will forget what you said. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” Lee touched many lives, and the love, warmth, and sense of security she provided will never be forgotten.
Donations can be made in Lee’s memory to Ronald McDonald House in Missoula.