Philip Wakeford Steitz III, a longtime resident of Washington, died due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease on July 29. Steitz was 90.
Born in Evanston, Illinois Steitz was a World War II veteran, having served as a sergeant major in the horse cavalry and then in military intelligence in the China-Burma-India Theater. After the war, Steitz graduated from Georgetown University and earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Columbia University.
After graduating Columbia Steitz worked briefly in New York, then in Chicago for ten years as a managing editor of the Publisher’s Newspaper Syndicate, distributors of the Gallup Poll and a number of other popular columns and comics. In 1964 Steitz returned to Washington to serve as the associate director for recruitment, selection and community relations at the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), a federal national service program designed to fight poverty in America. He also served as a senior director at the Office of Economic Opportunity, the home of the Head Start, Job Corps and other poverty programs.
Prior to starting his own small, independent newspaper syndicate in 1970, Steitz also served as assistant director of the newly created Peace Corps, overseeing recruitment and volunteer selection. Until his retirement in 2002, Steitz was executive editor of the Artist and Writers Syndicate, which distributed features on topics ranging from antiques, collectibles and photography to comic strips and editorial cartoonists.
Steitz was a longstanding, active member of the National Press Club, inducted as one of the club’s “Silver Owls.” Steitz also was president of Survey Research Corporation, a Washington-based public opinion research firm specializing in studies for Fortune 100 companies.
Steitz volunteered as a founding board member of Helping Children Grow, a Washington-based non-profit that places children in need in stable homes.
Steitz was married for 57 years to the late Marjorie Eberly Steitz. He is survived by five children; Nancy Steitz of Santa Monica, California, Philip W. Steitz IV of Scottsdale, Arizona, Paul Steitz of Del Mar, California, and Mark Steitz and David Steitz, both of Washington; and six grandchildren.
The family will hold private services later this month. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Helping Children Grow, 2120 Bladensburg Road NE # 200, Washington, DC 20018 or Iona Senior Services, 4125 Albemarle St, NW Washington, DC 20016.