Henry-York “Hank” Steiner, a revered professor of English at EWU, passed away on Sept. 6. He was 87.
Steiner dedicated his life to teaching. Long after he reached the age when most people trade in the daily grind of working for the relaxation of retirement, Steiner continued to challenge and enrich his students. By the time he finally stepped away from the classroom in June, he had spent 61 years as a professor, 50 of which were here at Eastern.
“He was a shining example of how when you join EWU you join a family,” says Jessica Boyer, a former EWU student who is now a lecturer in the university’s Department of Communication Studies. Steiner was Boyer’s first professor at Eastern. She says his guidance continued into her professional career. “When I came back to the university to teach he was right there to help support and mentor me.”
Steiner left behind an admirable legacy of service at EWU. He helped create and nurture many new programs, including American Indian Studies, Africana Studies, Chicano Education, University Honors and Environmental Science. He taught graduate and undergraduate courses in interests ranging from eastern religion, JRR Tolkien and honors, to classical poetics and rhetoric.
His impact on the university and his students was obvious during a retirement party hosted by the English Department in June. As the bartenders shook martinis—Hank’s favorite drink—dozens of co-workers, friends, family and former students surrounded Steiner to share stories and wish him well.
After learning of his death, EWU English Department Chair Logan Greene was moved to memorialize her long-time colleague and friend with a poem:
Beloved of the gods, this hero comes
In honor to his earned Elysium.
Apollo, crown him with your laurel wreath.
Athena, grey-eyed, greet him with a smile.
Pan and Dionysus, revelers,
Rejoice with him a lifetime lived in joy.
To Hades now and dread Persephone
We give this teacher, sage, philosopher.
Beloved of the gods, this hero rests.Logan Greene, EWU English Department Chair
We know many members of the Eastern Community will also want to honor Professor Steiner. When memorial information is available we will update the campus via InsideEWU.