A highlight of each year’s William Greenleaf Eliot celebration is the presentation of the Search Award, given in recognition of extraordinary contributions made to Washington University in St. Louis.
While most Search Awards are given to individual honorees, this year it was presented to a family — the Steinberg-Weil family — three generations of individuals whose impact on Washington University has, and continues to be, far-reaching and enduring.
At the 46th annual Eliot Society banquet, held April 30 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Eliot Society members gathered to enjoy an evening of fine dining, engage in conversation and honor the members of the Steinberg and Weil families who were present to receive the society’s highest honor.
They also heard an address by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that oversees the military’s most sensitive counter-terrorism units.
Accepting the Search Award from Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton were: Paula K. Weil, Richard and Josephine Weil, Mark Weil, PhD, and Joan Hall, and John and Anabeth Weil. The unique sculpture was created by WUSTL Professor Emeritus of Art Heikki Seppä.
Recognizing their collective impact on the institution, Wrighton said: “Together, the Steinberg and Weil families have made significant, lasting contributions to Washington University and to the City of St. Louis. Their gifts of important works of art helped to develop and shape the university’s collection, and their remarkable generosity in scholarship support continues to have significant positive impact on our academic programs.”
The family’s story in St. Louis began with Mark C. and Etta E. Steinberg. Mark Steinberg worked as an office boy in the St. Louis brokerage firm of Altheimer & Rawlings before founding Mark C. Steinberg & Co., a brokerage firm he headed until his death in 1951.
Etta Steinberg was the daughter of Aurelia Stix and David Eiseman, an owner and president of Rice-Stix Dry Goods Co. in St. Louis. She became a distinguished art collector and a visionary philanthropist who enriched the lives of many through her ardent support for education, recreation and health care in St. Louis.
Among the many gifts she left to the city and to Washington University, through the Mark C. Steinberg Charitable Trust and from personal gifts, are the Mark C. Steinberg Memorial Skating Rink in Forest Park, Steinberg Hall on the Danforth Campus and the Mark C. Steinberg Hospital, now part of the Barnes-Jewish complex. She also created the Mark C. Steinberg Professorship in Art History at Washington University, now titled the Etta and Mark Steinberg Professorship in Art History, held by Elizabeth Childs, PhD, chair of the Department of Art History and Archaeology in Arts & Sciences.
Etta Steinberg’s extraordinary generosity established endowments that have supported many important initiatives at Washington University over the years, including programs in art, architecture, social work, engineering, and the McDonnell International Scholars Academy. The university awarded her an honorary doctor of humanities degree in 1967.
Etta and Mark Steinberg had three daughters. The eldest, Florence Steinberg (1914-1985) married Richard K. Weil (1902-1996), a businessman and Washington University trustee. Florence and Richard Weil were serious art collectors; their gifts to the university’s art collection helped create a rich representation of postwar European and American painters, including Pablo Picasso and Robert Rauschenberg.
Florence and Richard Weil’s four children have continued their parents’ legacy of generosity and service:
Paula K. Weil of North Salem, N.Y., is a retired English teacher, sculptor and avid horsewoman. Among her philanthropic interests are education, the environment and women’s issues. She supports her alma mater, Vassar College, by serving on its President’s Advisory Council, and has carried on her parents’ legacy of support for Washington University.
Retired journalist Richard K. Weil Jr. and his wife, Josephine (AB ’66), are Life Members of the Eliot Society and members of The Danforth Circle Chancellor’s Level. Richard also serves as a member of the Institute for Public Health National Council.
Mark S. Weil is the E. Desmond Lee Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art History & Archaeology. During his 40 years at Washington University as a student, faculty member and department chair, he played a central role in advancing art and art history education to generations of students. A graduate of Washington University (AB,’66), Mark is a Life Patron of the Eliot Society and a member of The Danforth Circle Dean’s Level. Furthermore, he serves on the Arts & Sciences National Council. His partner, Joan Hall, is the Kenneth E. Hudson Professor of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and an artist and sculptor of large-scale installations.
John D. Weil is an investor and a trustee just as his father before him. He and wife, Anabeth, chair the Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University committee for the Sam Fox School. John also chairs the school’s National Council, and Anabeth chairs the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum Collections Committee. They are Life Patrons of the Eliot Society and members of The Danforth Circle Chancellor’s Level.
William Greenleaf Eliot Society
Members of the Washington University Eliot Society are leaders in supporting the Annual Fund, which provides for the institution’s critical margin of excellence in its mission of teaching, research and service to community and society. Membership support constitutes the largest source of unrestricted funds for the university and is used for scholarships, student assistance programs, educational resources, faculty development and recruitment, and facility improvements.
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal
McChrystal is the four-star general and former Green Beret who led the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in December 2003 and in the location and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in June 2006.
He is credited with creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations. During the Persian Gulf War (1990-91), he served in a Joint Special Operations Task Force and later commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Called “one of America’s greatest warriors” by former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, McChrystal was appointed chief of staff of military operations in Afghanistan in 2002. From 2003-08, he commanded the JSOC and led the nation’s deployed military counter-terrorism efforts around the globe. He assumed command of all international forces in Afghanistan in June 2009, and then retired from the military in August 2010.