John E. âJackâ Steger closed out an active, rewarding life when he passed peacefully in his sleep on July 14th at age 95 in the White Bear Lake home he shared with his wife and loving caregiver, Nan. Jackâs career in life insurance and related financial services spanned more than sixty years.
Born in St. Louis in 1926, Jack moved to St. Paul in 1939 with his family. He graduated from Cretin High School in 1943 and entered the Navy V-12 training program at the College of St. Thomas. The Navy sent him to the University of Michigan and on to Midshipmenâs School at Harvard, which he finished just in time to join the V-J Day mayhem in Times Square. Jack went to sea in 1946 as a Naval supply officer serving post-World War II duty in the Pacific.
Upon discharge Jack married his college sweetheart, Detroit native Maria Walkowiak. The newlyweds relocated to St. Paul where he joined his father in the local office of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. With a big personality and a knack for numbers, Jack became one of the top agents in the country, recognized for his expertise in the generational transfer of closely held family businesses. He actively served clients into his 80s.
After Mariaâs death in 1977, he married fellow St. Pius X parishioner Nan Scott in 1979, blending her four children with his four. He and Nan traveled to every continent, continuing their adventures into his 90s.
Jack actively supported many Catholic organizations, including St. Pius X Parish, Catholic Charities, the Christian Brothers, Abbey of the Genesee, Maryknoll Lay Missioners, the Jesuit retreat house, Sisters of St. Joseph, Dorothy Day, Common Bond Communities, University of St. Thomas, Cretin-Derham Hall high school and the Catholic Community Foundation.
He served as an international regent of Bethlehem University, a Catholic university founded by the Vatican in Palestine, and he helped establish the Bethlehem University Foundation in the U.S. This service brought him one of the greatest joys of his life: the opportunity to personally meet three Popes. He was honored for his Bethlehem University service at a 2018 ceremony at the Vatican Embassy in Washington DC.
Locally, Jack worked on creating the first hospice for cancer patients at St. Johnâs Hospital and was a benefactor of the new Pillars hospice in Oakdale. He was a board member of the Minnesota Museum of Art as well as several local companies. He was active in the St. Paul Jaycees, the Innijiska social club of Jaycees alumni, and the St. Paul Athletic Club. Jack was a 1965 Winter Carnival Vulcan. He was an avid bird hunter and golfer and a charter member of North Oaks Golf Club.
Jack was preceded in death by his parents John J. and Mary; infant son Johnny; first wife Maria; brothers James, Father Francis (Richard) Steger, OCSO and Brother Damian (Thomas) Steger, FSC. In addition to his wife Nan, he is survived by brother Joseph (Karen); and children Robert Steger, Susan Steger Welsh (Christopher), Barbara Steger Pontius (Jeffrey), Daniel Steger (Andrea), Carolyn Scott, Suzanne Scott, Thomas Scott (Vanessa Woog) and Kathleen Scott Swanson (Brad); 12 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Services will take place on Wednesday, August 4th, at St. Pius X Catholic Church in White Bear Lake. Visitation begins at 9:30 a.m., with Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m. Jack's service will be live streamed through the church website. Interment at St. Mary of the Lake Cemetery. Memorials preferred to Catholic Charities, Accent Care Fairview Hospice or charity of the donorâs choice.