Distinguished Lawyer Memorial Honoree

Lt. Col. Fred Steiner

Fred Alvin Steiner (b. Iowa 1898, d. Normandy 1944) was a truly remarkable individual – “a man for all seasons” who, by his own industry, rose from very modest beginnings to establish a reputation for excellence, not only as a lawyer, but also as a civic and military leader. He arrived in San Diego in 1924, newly graduated from Vanderbilt Law School and commenced the practice of law. Retired Supreme Court Justice William A. Sloane let him have a desk in the corridor of the Watts Building (5th and E Street) just outside the door to the Judge’s office. Fred Steiner soon became both a truly remarkable trial lawyer and a leading maritime and business lawyer. His loyal clients and friends included civic leaders such as Claude Ryan (Ryan Aeronautical) Earl Pruden (Solar Aircraft), R. Victor Venberg (Insurance), Hotchkiss and Anewalt (Real Estate) and Jack Crivello (Sun Harbor). He served as an officer of the San Diego County Bar Association and of Silvergate Riding Club, as well as being active in the Reserve Officers Association and the Masonic Orders. His law partnership with Harrison Sloane lasted until he was killed in action in Normandy near Cherbourg. He had received his army commission in the infantry in 1917 shortly before the end of World War I. He served in the reserve until he volunteered to return to active duty in 1939 as he saw World War II approaching. He volunteered to serve as Van Fleet’s executive officer in the Eighth Infantry Regiment of the Fourth Motorized Division. In that capacity he was the first field grade officer to land on Utah Beach. For his exemplary leadership and heroism in Normandy he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (the nation’s second highest award for valor), Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He left a legacy of honesty, ability, integrity, diligence and compassion, as well as a legion of friends.