Neal Steinhoff’s roots are in Wisconsin. He followed in his father’s footsteps, graduating from the University of Wisconsin, and his sons followed both him and his wife in getting their education as Badgers. When Steinhoff’s wife of 60 years died, he had a choice to make. Two sons had moved to California, one to Virginia and one to Vermont. He chose to relocate to Vermont and for the last four years, the 87-year-old has been living at the Residence at Shelburne Bay.
Steinhoff got his degree in business administration in 1952 and after two years in the army teaching radio repair, he went to work at Honeywell, first in engineering and then sales. From there, he spent 30 years working for the state of Wisconsin, with the last 20 as the administrator of all the state buildings including the Capitol – over two million square feet in all.
In 1992, Steinhoff retired and embarked on a new role, that of international traveler. He and his wife took 14 different elder hostel trips including an African safari, trekking in Nepal, visiting the houses and gardens of England, and viewing religious sites in Israel. The couple passed their love of travel on to their children. One memorable trip to Norway included all four sons and their wives and children.
“It was spectacular,” Steinhoff said. “It introduced international travel to almost all of them and now they’re all doing it.”
These days, Steinhoff is passing his love of travel on to his fellow residents at Shelburne Bay. Every two weeks, he puts together a video presentation, often showing pictures of foreign lands he has visited, to as many as 20 friends and neighbors. Recently, he recorded the music of a St. Patrick’s Day concert that was performed for the residents, and combined it with some photos taken by one of his sons on a trip to Ireland. He has learned how to do special effects and gave a presentation called Instant Spring with photos of the March snowfall followed by explosions which then morphed into blossoming trees and flowers. Steinhoff also has two bulletin boards at the Residence that he decorates with his photos, changing the subject matter once every two weeks.
Steinhoff helps other residents by taking family photos and helping them restore old ones. He is pleased he was able to take one large family portrait for a resident two days before he passed away. Steinhoff recently began working with Photoshop, which allows him to enhance his nature photography but has other purposes as well. He created a picture with the heads of three female residents placed on top of shapely younger women in bathing suits.
In addition to entertaining his fellow residents with his photos, Steinhoff has also been educating them by introducing them to the Great Courses program. He is in the middle of presenting the Great History series, showing two videos at a time, followed by a discussion period. An enthusiastic audience of 15 to 20 people has been attending regularly. When Steinhoff finishes Great History, he hopes to start on another series. While he is tempted to show a series on chamber music, others have expressed interest in paleontology.
Whether it’s his own travelogues, or the Great Course program, Steinhoff is pleased to be able to share his interests with others. “People seem to like the shows,” he said, “and I’m happy to do them.”