Just two weeks after his 100th birthday, Albert Steinberg, a Peter Cooper Village resident and father of Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg, died.
Steinberg had recently been ill with pneumonia. He spent five days, the past Monday to Friday, at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, and passed away the day after coming home.
Susan, one of two children Steinberg had with his late wife Evelyn, said her father had made his goal of turning 100, and suspected that after that, he had simply run out of goals.
“People know when they want to let go,” she said.
Steinberg was born in 1916 in Chicago but moved to New York City, and later to Coney Island, with his family by the age of eight.
In his eulogy, Susan noted that for the family, “Weeks were measured by the chopping of fish for gefilte fish on Friday or the making of wine by foot. That is, until Dad’s mother died of a cerebral hemorrhage, an event that affected him deeply and forever.”
Before World War II, Steinberg joined the Young People’s Socialist League, where he met his wife. “My father was a handsome devil and Mom was besotted,” Susan said. Then came WWII, with Steinberg flying over Germany in the nose cone of the Flying Fortress, directing where to drop bombs. Steinberg served four and a half years and attained the rank of captain. He learned radar, the new technology of the day.
After discharge, he applied for an apartment in Stuyvesant Town, but didn’t income qualify. Decades later, he would end up living in Peter Cooper Village for 40 years.
Under the GI Bill, Steinberg became a licensed optician in two years and found a job in Houston, Texas.
He also built a successful business, Texas State Optical, although Susan noted that he always yearned to return to New York City. In 1966, he and Evelyn moved back there.
They lived in Brooklyn for a decade before applying for an apartment in Peter Cooper Village, and this time Steinberg got it. The couple did things like travel and see Broadway shows regularly until Evelyn became ill a decade ago.
Steinberg visited her daily in the nursing home.
According to Steinberg’s eulogy, one day when his wife had to leave the nursing home for the hospital, he got sick at the same time – and coincidentally found himself in a hospital room right next to hers.
“He would wheel himself from his room to hers every afternoon and they would hold hands and declare their love,” said the eulogy. “As it happens, they were also discharged the same day.”
Evelyn died in 2010, six months after coming home from the hospital.
Susan recalled that her father often said, “I had a great life. I don’t regret any of it.”
Upon hitting the century mark, his grandchildren flew in from Hot Springs, Virginia to see him and his son, Jan, also came in from Houston, to attend the birthday party.
A service for the family was held on Wednesday.