Service measured not by GOLD,
                           but by the GOLDEN RULE

Service measured not by GOLD,
          but by the GOLDEN RULE


Walter Lowell Steinbrenner, Wooster, Ohio age 90, died peacefully at his home on Monday, September 11, 2023, of natural causes.  His wife and daughters were by his side.   Lowell was born in Butler, PA, on March 25, 1933, to Walter John and Ida Mae (Shoup) Steinbrenner.  He married his wife, Jan, on May 26, 1978.  He is survived by his wife and his children: Sara Steinbrenner, husband Jim Balzarini of Bath OH , Heidi Steinbrenner, partner Chuck Tracy of Columbus OH, Tracy Steinbrenner, husband Dan Bare of Worthington OH, Brian Donley, wife Janet, of Nashua NH, and Jill Munteanu, husband Cornel of Olmsted Falls OH.  He has four grandchildren:  Bill and Lauren Balzarini, Henry and Jorge Bare.  He is also survived by his sister, Sylvia Cratty, of Lutherville-Timonium, MD.  He was predeceased by his son, Bill, on November 26, 1977.

Lowell graduated from Butler High School.  He studied metallurgical engineering at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1955 and a master’s degree in metallurgical engineering in 1960.  Lowell joined Carnegie Mellon’s Board of Trustees in 2000 and became an Emeritus Life Trustee in 2008.  During his time on the board, Lowell was involved with numerous committees and advisory boards.

Lowell was an incredible person – smart, kind, generous, community oriented and relentlessly curious about the world.  “Lowell was sad about the direction of the world, not just with regard to climate, but also racism, free speech and other issues,” said Richard Scheines, the Bess Family Dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University.

His passions were classical music, opera, travel, reading, and he had a deep concern about the environment.  He enjoyed skiing, tennis, and exercised daily. From very early on, he was a man committed to keep moving forward, taking on new challenges.   He and Jan were fortunate enough, during their many trips, to have visited the seven continents.

Lowell has actively supported many local groups:  Junior Achievement, United Way, Boys & Girls Club of Orrville, and was instrumental in the start of People to People Ministries in Wooster.

Lowell’s professional life always involved working in the steel business.  After several years associated with other steel companies, he decided it was time to take the next step.  He co-founded Contours, Inc. in 1970 with just a handful of employees in Orrville, OH.  Contours was a specialty shaped steel wire producer and by 2003 the company had grown to over 200 employees, at which time Lowell sold Contours to Bekaert.

During his time at Carnegie Mellon, in 2003, he and Jan established the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research (SEER), which aims to change the way the world thinks and acts about the environment.  Lowell was deeply involved in the work of the institute over the course of 20 years since its founding. In making the gift Lowell noted, “Because of social, economic and political circumstances, we undoubtedly will have to radically change our habits with regard to our natural resources.  Lowell and Jan supported other initiatives across the university, particularly in the College of Engineering and the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

In 1985, Lowell and Jan moved to Cambridge MA, where Lowell earned a Master’s of Theology degree at Harvard Divinity School.  He pursued this degree, not to become a minister, but to study the impact of religion on different cultures.  He went on to study international economics at Boston University.

Lowell’s involvement with Unitarian Universalism in Wooster began in 1972, when he placed an ad in the Daily Record inviting others with similar beliefs to join him in the discussion of founding a Fellowship in Wayne County.  From the first official worship service held in rented space at the Union Grange Hall in Madisonburg, the Fellowship has grown.  It now meets in the newly enlarged UU Fellowship on Burbank Road, Wooster, and has over 175 members.

Lowell was a member and dedicated supporter of both the American Humanist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association. He frequently presented programs on Humanism, science and critical thinking for local Humanist groups in Pittsburgh and for various UU congregations. He worked with administration, faculty and students to establish the Carnegie Mellon Universalist Humanist League.

In 2015, he, along with Skip Nault and a few others, began the Humanist group at the fellowship to advance the purpose of Humanism as a rational philosophy formed by science, guided by reason, inspired by art and motivated by compassion.

Lowell’s life will be celebrated by family and friends on Saturday, October 7, 1:00, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Wayne County, 3186 Burbank Road, Wooster.

McIntire Bradham & Sleek Funeral Home, 216 E. Larwill St. Wooster is assisting the family.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Steinbrenner Institute at Carnegie Mellon, Carnegie Mellon University, PO Box 371525, Pittsburgh PA 15251-7525

Online condolences may be left for the family at


  1. So thankful for Lowell’s efforts in creating and sustaining our fellowship. Holding his family in the light.

  2. May Lowell rest in peace.

    From Russ Crockett CMU trustee

  3. Enjoyed knowing Lowell when he was active with his business in Orrville. Outgoing personality and fun to deal with. May he RIP

  4. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  5. Lowell’s conviction for and generous support of the UU fellowship made all the difference at key times in its development. He lived his values and was a model for the rest of us. Fondly remembered.

  6. Sara, Jim and family, I always admired and enjoyed working for Lowell at Contour’s. Many happy memories at work and great times at the Christmas parties. So sorry for your loss, Lowell was such a wonderful and blessed man. Hugs and prayers to you all and God bless your family.

  7. He was a very good person. And I will always remember him with great respect!

  8. I am saddened by the passing of Lowell. He was a generous and patient man. He taught me about First Unitarian finances which was a frustrating subject for him but he rejoiced about Unitarianism in his Ohio UU Church. A great leader has been lost.


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