Joseph J. Steckler, 85, of Keswick, Virginia, passed away at Hospice House on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008, after a long and courageous battle with pulmonary fibrosis.
He was born on March 19, 1923 in Evansville, the son of Urban and Helen Steckler. He grew up in Evansville but spent much of his childhood at The Shriner's Children's Hospital in St. Louis, receiving pioneering treatments which enabled him to walk. He entered St. Meinrad Seminary at the age of 14, where he completed secondary and post secondary education, graduated and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest for the Evansville Diocese in 1949.
Father Steckler served as an Associate Pastor for St. Joseph Church in Evansville from 1949 to 1952, St. Mary's Church in Washington, Indiana from 1952 to 1955, and The Assumption Cathedral in Evansville from 1955 to 1956. He then served as Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Oakland City, Indiana from 1956 to 1960, as Pastor of St. Peter's Church in Linton from 1960 to 1968, where he led the fundraising and building of the main sanctuary and modernization of the church hall, and as Pastor of St. Mary's Church in Washington from 1968 to 1970.
He received a dispensation to leave the priesthood in 1970 and worked for the next several years in higher education, first serving as the Educational Director of Porter Business College in Indianapolis, and then as Director of Admissions and Registrar of Fort Lauderdale University in Florida, where he met his wife Ann, an instructor at the school. They married in 1973 and he adopted her son, Fred. The family resided in Boca Raton, Florida, where they were active in the newly established Ascension Catholic Church. At Ascension Church, he was founder of The Men's Club, editor of the monthly newsletter, and Co-Chairman of the Capital Campaign to build a new sanctuary and multi-purpose hall.
In 1983, he was asked to serve as Pastoral Minister to the Ascension Church community and he served in that role until his retirement in 1992.
After retiring, Joe and Ann moved to the mountains of North Carolina on the Vaile Cay community, near Boone. In 2004, the Stecklers moved to Keswick, Virginia.
Survivors include his wife of 35 years, Ann; his son, Fred, and Fred's partner Robert Murphy of Washington, DC; his sister Patricia of Boca Raton, Florida; many nieces and nephews, and a large circle of friends.
He was preceded in death by his brothers; Urban, Paul, and Jerry.
Services will be held in Charlottesville, Virginia and Boca Raton, Florida.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The Hospice of the Piedmont, 2200 Old Ivy Road, Charlottesville, VA, 22903.