The Indianapolis Arts Community lost an enthusiastic supporter with the passing of James B. Steichen, M.D. on May 22, 2014.
Jim was the President of American Pianists Association when I was hired as Executive Director. He and a dedicated Board of Directors of the American Pianists Association, formerly the Beethoven Foundation, literally saved the organization immediately following the name change in the 1980s. They were all classical piano lovers who wanted to support American pianists’ career development. They gave of their time, talents, and resources to make sure the tradition continued. Jim was a strong supporter of adding a jazz piano segment to the organization and I am happy to have had his support during this time as some of the Directors were somewhat reticent of that happening.
Jim was a perfectionist and expected the same of those who worked for him. He is the only man on the planet that I would have 8 AM monthly meetings at his office and never be late. And believe me, I needed all my T’s crossed and I’s dotted prior to the meetings. I respected him as my boss, a family man, a man of the world, and a brilliant hand surgeon.
I must relate something he said to me that I will always remember. He operated on my mother-in-law’s hand when she was in her 90s and living with Bob and me. I called for the follow-up appointment and he spoke to me and said he would come by the house to see her. While there he said, “If you ever tell anyone I made a house call, I will deny having done it!”
He and Joan were spectacular hosts when entertaining at their home. American Pianists Association Fellows loved being hosted by them and Jim always said it was delightful being awakened by one of the Fellows practicing. Of course, his delightful dry wit rounded out the personality of this amazing man, and I will never forget some of his comments to me. He will be missed by many.
Jan Rost, Former Executive Director of the American Pianists Association