The memory of Donald J. Steinbeisser was honored on Sept. 18, 2020 at the Richland County Event Center in Sidney.
Steinbeisser passed away “peacefully in his sleep” after a long battle with heart disease, the family reported. He was 85.
The “Mass of Christian Burial” was held Friday morning at the Event Center in Sidney. Officially, 200 people paid their respects, including Steinbeisser’s large family. (Unofficially, more than 400 people filled most of the enormous meeting space.)
Country music serenaded guests as they waited for the ceremony to start. The Knights of Columbus led the way, as Steinbeisser’s casket was wheeled in.
Three Catholic priests were present including presider Father Jim O’Neil. He was joined by Father Callistus Igwenagu and Father Greg Staudinger.
A senior member of the Steinbeisser family spoke briefly. He was followed by a singer, who — standing alongside an organist — serenaded everyone.
“The Lord is my light... And my salvation,” she sang, with the family close by. “I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the living.”
After everyone in attendance sang a hymnal invoking “The gospel of the Lord,” Father O’Neil spoke fondly about Steinbeisser, recalling their many visitations.
“Every time I went to visit,” Father O’Neil said, Steinbeisser would tell him — in sharing their joy together — ‘You always add something.’”
Father O’Neil recalled that Steinbeisser was a devoted farmer who never stopped caring about agriculture and the bountiful lands of eastern Montana.
“One thing Don would start talking about was the farm,” Father O’Neil recalled. “He was kind of positive about things, too. He didn’t really get down on things.”
Donald J. Steinbeisser was generous in caring about others, the Catholic priest said: “He would ask, ‘Father, how is it going with you?’”
Father O’Neil told the family — and hundreds of community members at the funeral mass — how much “Don” appreciated genuineness in people.
Father O’Neil said Steinbeisser listened to everyone.
“He did that with everybody he talked to,” Father O’Neil said. “He was the kind of person who could appreciate the simple things in life. He took time to stop and smell the roses. He appreciated God giving to him.”
The Mass of Christian Burial for Donald J. Steinbeisser lasted about 45 minutes. However, it seemed as though time stopped during the ceremony. The singer, whose voice was perfectly matched for the occasion, sang frequently; but the song that echoed truest was “Ava Maria.”
A trio of men from the Knights of Columbus participated in the solemn ceremony. One of them spoke briefly about “Don’s” devotion to their order. The Catholic Knights presented the family with a beautiful, shiny chalice.
“We mourn the loss of Brother Don, our departed Brother Knight,” he said.
After leading everyone in the “Lord’s Prayer,” Father O’Neil added words of comfort to Steinbeisser’s extended family and friends, which included hundreds of people throughout Richland County.
“For all the many friends and family who have gone before us,” Father O’Neil said, “grant them the everlasting home. Forgive the sins of all who sleep in Christ.”
During his opening address to the entire mass, Father O’Neil pointed to the importance of paying heed to all the day’s news, particularly in a tight-knit community such as Richland County. He praised Steinbeisser for reminding people frequently that small stories matter just as much as major headlines.
“Don, being that mentor of simplicity,” O’Neil said, “taught us to look for stories on the back of the newspaper instead of just the front page.”
For the complete obituary of Donald J. “Don” Steinbeisser, please see page A3 of the Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020 edition of the Sidney Herald. Or, click here.