In Memoriam: John Steinitz


John Steinitz had a long and distinguished career as a fundraiser in San Diego. He was recruited to UC San Diego from Utah around 1982 and became the university’s first director of planned giving. John worked with some of UC San Diego’s most important donors to fund the library, medical research, and endowment. 

In 1988, John became director of development at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and quickly raised the level of donations from several hundred thousand dollars a year to several million dollars a year. He was instrumental in raising funds for building Birch Aquarium at Scripps, endowed chairs, and research. He retired in 1993 but continued to work part-time at Scripps Oceanography until his final retirement around 2006.

John was known for his professionalism, his tenacity, his dedication, and his close relationships with donors.

We miss this long-time member of our Scripps/UC San Diego community.

In lieu of flowers, the John Steinitz Endowed Collections Fund has been created to provide support in perpetuity for the Scripps Oceanographic Collections.

A Celebration of Life for John Steinitz will be held on Saturday, March 28, from 2-5 p.m., at the Martin Johnson House on the campus of Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The family requests RSVP to the celebration. 


Tribute from the Steinitz Family:

John William Steinitz was born October 28, 1928, in Newark, New Jersey, to John and Margaret Steinitz and passed away peacefully on February 26, 2015, at La Jolla Medical Center due to complications from heart surgery.

John was born prematurely and weighed 2.2 pounds at birth. From the beginning to the end of his life, he never gave up on anything or anybody.  He dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Marine Corps. After his service he completed high school and graduated from Utah State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Dairy Husbandry. He completed the ROTC program and served in the U.S. Air Force. He completed a Master of Divinity degree at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. 

John’s career was fascinating and diverse. He worked in immunology and microbiology research at UC Berkeley and was, as he called himself, a “self-taught surgeon” who did work in artificial heart research at the University of Utah. Later, he entered the world of institutional development and was appointed Director of Development at Utah State University. He was recruited to UC San Diego in 1984 and became the university’s first Director of Planned Giving. John worked with donors to fund the library, medical research and the university’s general endowment. In 1988, he became Director of Development at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he was instrumental in raising funds for building the renowned Birch Aquarium, endowed chairs and numerous important research projects. His warmth, breadth and attentiveness allowed him to help donors to focus their efforts so their gifts were also gifts to themselves. He retired in 1993 but continued to work part-time for more than 10 years. John also volunteered for the La Jolla YMCA, helping with fundraising and serving on the board of directors for 20 years. He was awarded the YMCA’s prestigious Golden Triangle of Distinguished Service award in 2006 for his years of volunteer commitment, dedication and loyalty.  John was known for his professionalism, his tenacity, his dedication. and his close relationships with donors. 

John was a wonderful father to seven children. He had a joyful, curious mind and soul, and enjoyed many things. He was an extremely competitive racquetball player and an accomplished angler who fished all over the world.  He was a voracious reader, mostly of non-fiction books, who could have a highly intellectual conversation on any topic without ever losing his immense sense of humor. Even when his body presented some challenges, he never stopped seeing the humor in whatever came along. John was a compassionate, good listener who loved to mentor and help others find their path in life. 

John’s family acknowledges the profound sense of loss being felt by the many people whose lives were enriched by knowing him. We also wish to extend our appreciation to the physicians and staff at USCD Sulpizio Cardiovascular Clinic and the Howell Palliative Services. He received the very best of care, and that compassionate service was extended to our family as well. We are touched by the love that surrounded us all.

John was preceded in death by his brother, Al, and his son, Timothy. He is survived by his wife, Carol, who cared for him with much tenderness and compassion. They have been wonderful role models of resilience and enduring love during their 40 years of marriage, continuing to laugh at each other’s jokes and hold hands all along the way. He is also survived by his brother Mike, his first wife and friend for life, Leta, his children Steve, Tamara, Jeff, Carrie, Michele, Meg, and his beloved parrot, Apollo. 

Godspeed, John. We will miss you in a million ways.


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