Cooking 02

Barbara J. (Kochan) Steitz

June 9, 1933 ~ June 9, 2022 (age 89)


Barbara J. Steitz (nee Kochan) passed away peacefully with family at her side on June 9, 2022.

(Her 89th birthday)

Beloved Wife of the late Stephen R. Steitz, Jr.  Dear Mother of Diana Riley, Steve Steitz (Su), Bob Steitz (Tina), and Mary Balogh (Matt).  Loving Grandmother of Richard Mulka, Joe Szklarz (Holly), Christine Herber (Jim), Stephen Szklarz (Rachel), Peter Szklarz (Bri), Matthew Balogh (Hannah), Robert Szklarz (Terra), and Cassie Steitz.  Great-grandmother of Charley Mulka, Finn and Amelia Szklarz, Alexandra and Corwin Herber, Cameron and Sadie Szklarz, Coco and Rory McKeown, Quinn Szklarz and Nora Szklarz.  Sister of Bernice Kochan, Michael Kochan (Loretta Roberts), and the late Betty (Deubel) Welling.  Close cousin of Gary Faloon.  Special aunt to Jerry Bentsch, Sandy Mash, Jim and Marjorie Kochan, Annmarie Winston, Michael Greco, Nancy Wargo, Jeff Steitz and Joe Steitz. Also, the late Michael Kochan, Joe and Tom Greco and Barb Steitz. Life-long friend of Marianne Page.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio on June 9th, 1933 (“the hottest day of the year") to Mary and Michael Kochan, Barbara attended Gordon Elementary School where she first met Steve Steitz who she would later marry.  One of Barb and Steve’s summer jobs at age 16 was working at Num Num Potato Chip Factory on Lorain Avenue in Cleveland.  She tells us that is where she learned to make a potato chip sandwich. 

Barb was a June 1951 honor roll graduate of West Tech High School.

On September 6, 1952, she married the love of her life, Stephen R. Steitz, Jr. at St. Colman’s Church.  While Steve was serving his country in the United States Army and Ohio National Guard, Barb was busy working as a Supervisor at the Ohio Bell Telephone Company where she saved enough money to purchase their first home on Hope Avenue in Cleveland once Steve was discharged from the service.  She left her job at OBT in 1956 to become a full-time mother and home maker.

Barb and Steve, along with their two children Diana and Steve Jr., moved to Wilber Avenue in Parma in 1960 to accommodate their growing family and became a member of St. Charles Parish.  Their son Bob and daughter Mary were born in 1960 and 1962, respectively.  Barb loved being a mother and wife.  Her family always came first.

Once her children were all of school age, she returned to the workforce for another 10 years at The Standard Oil Company where she shared with us many stories of the interesting people she worked with and crazy things which happened in that Credit Card Check Processing Center’s second shift (like getting stuck in an elevator at 10:00 p.m., or receiving a bottle of authentic moonshine from a co-worker who hailed from West Virginia or exchanging ethnic recipes with another co-worker who was from the Ukraine or how a disgruntled customer wrote out check on his shirt “saying take the shirt off my back”, mailed it in as his payment and how they had to accept it as legal tender!). 

Barb was an excellent gardener and cook.  She had a vegetable and herb garden which she used as ingredients for so many of her delicious dishes.   As a family, we were spoiled in that we enjoyed not only her home-made cooking, but she loved to experiment and was always up to the challenge of making something creative.  She definitely could have had her own show on the Food Network!  

As a lover of history, especially World War II, local history and food history, it seems as though Barb couldn’t get enough.  Her knowledge in all of these areas, and many more subjects, came from a combination of reading, the movies and personal experiences.  She and Steve had the opportunity to travel quite a bit before he passed away in 2005.  Their travels, although not to expensive and exotic places, were often those destinations of which Barb had read about or was curious about.  She would do extensive research before the trip and they would pack a lot into a week’s journey.  Whether it was the Ramp Festival or the Jamboree Fest or visiting James Dean’s birthplace,  Roswell, New Mexico (to check out whether life on other planets really does exist), or just enjoying the newest attraction or restaurant in northeast Ohio, she enjoyed them to the fullest.  And had the photos to document these interesting vacations.

Barb also liked to dabble in drawing and painting.  Many years were spent going to her sister Betty and brother-in-law Ken’s cottage at Piedmont Lake, Ohio.  While the men would be fishing, Barb took the time to paint the surroundings: the lake, the woods, the farmlands.  She even used water from the lake to mix with the watercolor paint.  Talk about an authentic lake painting!

Sports, especially the Cleveland Indians, were something Barb enjoyed very much.  She told us stories of the days at the old Cleveland Stadium where she and her girlfriends when they were junior high and high school age would go to a game and get autographs from players like Bob Feller, Larry Doby and Lou Boudreau.  And as a kid, she would go with one of her older sisters on the streetcar to the stadium.  They would bring their own bagged lunch and for about 10 cents, could get a seat in the bleachers.  As an adult, she continued to be an avid fan of the Indians and watched almost every game on television.  Recently, we were able to get her excited about the Browns.

Barb was a voracious reader, movie buff, enjoyed live theater, loved writing in journals and writing letters, especially to her out-of-town nieces and nephews but also to friends that even lived in-town.  And most of all, she was one the greatest story tellers ever!  It might be about a place she visited, or something she and Steve experienced, a story about her ancestors or adventures with her siblings, school days or growing up during World War II.  Or maybe a tale about how different pastas or a fancy dessert got their name.  Because she read a lot, she knew quite a bit about different subjects.  When attending a family get-together,  you would usually see her surrounded by a group of people who were truly engaged in what she was saying because her way of story telling was always captivating—never boring.  If you were fortunate enough to receive a Christmas card from her, it always included a story or two of a memory of hers, a funny poem or something of historical significance. 

So how do you take the 89 years of life and loves and curiosities of an incredible, unique, beautiful woman, Barbara Jean Kochan Steitz, and try to summarize it all in this limited amount of space?  It’s not possible.

But this is just a small glimpse of what this truly special human being was and she will forever remain in our hearts and memories.

We love you always, Mom, Grandma, Great-Grandma.

Private Family Services were held.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to:  City Mission, Holy Family Home, or Hospice of the Western Reserve.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Barbara J. (Kochan) Steitz, please visit our floral store.

Memorial Tree
A Memorial Tree was planted for Barbara

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Private Family Services


City Mission
5310 Carnegie Avenue, Cleveland OH 44103
Tel: 1-216-307-1382

Holy Family Home
6707 State Road, Parma OH 44134
Tel: 1-440-482-6451

Click on "Donate" button at top right of page

Hospice of the Western Reserve
300 East 185th Street, Cleveland OH 44119
Tel: 1-216-545-5402

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