Former Clinton Township trustee, treasurer remembered

‘He was my superhero, mentor and best friend’

By: Alex Szwarc | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published December 8, 2021




CLINTON TOWNSHIP — He’s been described as a good person who loved his community.

Robert Steiner died Nov. 15 at the age of 91.

He served on the Clinton Township Board of Trustees from 1974 to 1988 and was elected township treasurer 1988 to 1996.

One of Steiner’s daughters, Sandy Charron, said her dad was a very giving man who loved everyone and living in Clinton Township.

“He was a great father who was always there for us,” she said. “I gave part of the eulogy at his funeral and said he was my superhero, mentor and best friend.”

Charron, of Rochester, said after her mother passed, she spent more time with her dad.

“People would recognize him and always tell stories of how he would help them,” she said.

Charron said her parents met when her mother worked at Kresge’s in Detroit and her dad worked at Kroger. He would stop in the candy shop, and “that was it.”

A story she shared is when her dad had a stroke but didn’t want the fire department to be called.

“Drag me to your car and put me in there,” Charron said. “I’m on with the dispatcher and he’s yelling in the back ‘no sirens.’ The fire department came, sirens blaring. The firemen come in, and they immediately recognize him. Two days before he had the stroke, he delivered Kiwanis peanuts to all the fire stations. I asked the firemen if I could go with him in the ambulance and the fireman said, ‘No, this is Bob Steiner — we’re going to take good care of him.’”

Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said Steiner took new trustees like himself under his wing. Cannon was first elected to the board in 1984.

“He told us what the expectations were and what we could anticipate as board members, and it was very helpful,” Cannon said. “Bob Steiner was just a good, community person.”

Steiner had a career at General Motors, working as an engineer.

“When he was a trustee, General Motors gave him a lot of leeway to go to meetings in the afternoons and do things that normally someone could not have done,” the supervisor said. “I think General Motors was very happy that he was a big part of the community.”

Cannon added that Steiner was always committed to the community, as was his family. He mentioned that it didn’t matter to Steiner if he wasn’t working for the township.

“He never stopped contributing to the community,” he said. “It didn’t matter that he wasn’t treasurer or trustee; he was going to make it a better community, and that’s how I remember him and his family.”

The Steiner Community Building on Joy Boulevard is named after him.

In explaining the story behind naming a building after Steiner, Cannon said he, Steiner and Denny Tomlinson were behind an effort in the 1980s to keep a parks and recreation employee in the department.

“That’s how we got our parks and recreation program started, and I always felt, as did Bob, that you can’t have a good community without having a good parks and rec program,” Cannon said. “We had a chance to move ahead with a couple of projects.”

One such project was purchasing a property; that is now the Clinton Township Tomlinson Arboretum on 18 Mile Road.

“At the same time, we were able to acquire, at a $1-a-year lease, the property on Joy Boulevard, which is now the Steiner building,” Cannon said. “I proposed naming the building after Bob Steiner, and everybody agreed. His desire to have a strong parks and rec program was my motivation to ask the board to name something after him.”

The Steiner Community Building is utilized by the parks and recreation department.

Recently retired police chief Bruce Wade is Steiner’s nephew.

“Both of my parents passed when I was young, and he really was a mentor and really pointed me in the right direction in life,” Wade said.

Wade said Steiner became a strong father figure in his life.

“I always described him as his biggest satisfaction in life was doing stuff for other people,” he said. “I believe his biggest political accomplishment was pushing to buy all that property where the Civic Center is now.”

Wade said that now is the centerpiece of the township.

The former police chief explained that when Steiner retired from the township, Wade would receive plenty of phone calls from people who asked if Steiner would return to politics.

“His quality was his veracity and down-to-earth approach to people,” Wade said. “He was somebody who, when they said they were going to do something, they did it.”

Steiner was married for 65 years to the late Alice Steiner, who died in February 2017. The two had five children, 22 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

A funeral service was held Nov. 22 at Resurrection Funeral Home in Clinton Township. He is buried at White Chapel Cemetery in Troy.