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Creating memories

Created date

February 26th, 2009

Couple connects through art, writing

By Jan Landon


Woody Steinwart s paintings decorate the Tallgrass Creek apartment home he shares with his wife, Susie. They are stunning works colorful, precise, and always accompanied by a treasured memory.

The one above the couch is entitled Passau, Germany. This painting was Mr. Steinwart s 50th wedding anniversary gift to his wife.

Mrs. Steinwart shows off her own masterpieces. Lined up on the refrigerator door are photographs of her five grandchildren. Each Christmas Eve, their pictures are taken; the Steinwarts collection traces them from small children to young adults.

A good match and a meal

The Steinwarts life together began with a blind date. She was a student at Smith College, in Northampton, Mass., and he was working in New York City, N.Y. He had graduated from nearby Amherst College, in Amherst, Mass., and was back for a homecoming weekend.

"I took her to dinner, and she ordered everything on the menu," Mr. Steinwart says with a laugh.

He had taken other women on dates, and when their dinners arrived, they didn t eat them all, he says. Mr. Steinwart resented spending his hard-earned money on a meal that a woman didn t eat. So when he met this girl, he was smitten.

She graduated from Smith with degrees in economics and sociology, and they married shortly thereafter. He marvels at his circumstances, because if he hadn t gone on that blind date, his life would have been very different.

"Nothing could compare with 58 years of marriage," Mr. Steinwart says. "I m a very fortunate man."

Family is nearby

Mr. Steinwart s work brought the couple to the Kansas City area, and in 1970, he started his own company Steinwart Sales Co. Today, the company is still run by two of his sons. All three of the Steinwarts boys and their families live within three miles of Tallgrass Creek.

Community is important to the Steinwarts, who have been very involved in volunteer activities. Mr. Steinwart has worked for many years raising funds for Literacy Kansas City, a not-for-profit organization that helps adults improve their basic literacy skills. He has also counseled young men with alcohol problems. Working with the Junior League, Mrs. Steinwart volunteered as a financial adviser for low-income families.

When Mr. Steinwart retired, he rediscovered the interest in art he developed while in the Army during World War II. Although he was never in combat, he spent a year stationed in Rome writing for Stars and Stripes newspaper and getting introduced to opera and art. He even took classes at a local art school.

In retirement, Mr. Steinwart took art classes at Johnson County Community College for two and a half years and continues painting on his own. He has had several shows, including one at his alma mater. The Morgan Gallery in downtown Kansas City also represented his work.

An odyssey together

In addition to dedicating their time to artistic and philanthropic endeavors, the Steinwarts have traveled extensively. Together they have visited places including Germany, Spain, and Morocco. They never took organized trips, but instead set their own agendas.

"We call them our odysseys," Mr. Steinwart says.

The Steinwarts have now started another odyssey at Tallgrass Creek. They moved there from another retirement community last April, and it is a decision they are glad they made.

"The people are very interesting," Mrs. Steinwart says. "When we go to dinner, we have very interesting conversations." She writes articles for the Tallgrass Creek resident newsletter, which has given her the opportunity to meet and learn about more interesting people.

Mr Steinwart agrees that they are in good company. He adds: "I love it here."