“Another great day in paradise, just wish I was there,” Jeffrey Stineburg of Fort Wayne, IN often said. Well, on Friday, May 12, 2023, Jeff’s wish came true when, after 80 beautiful years, he passed from this life to take his place in Paradise. Jeff was born on October 19, 1942 in Lafayette, IN to Charles Robert Stineburg and Ruth Ann Pilotte. Stories of his youth conjure up images of a boy full of wonder and imagination, but also a bit of a rascal, clever and defiant. He once punched his sister for sitting on his cheeseburger, something she likely did on purpose and which he likely deserved. He also devised a telephone system between his house and a friend’s so they could craft their mischief – likely the same kid who helped him steal beer, then run from the cops.
In 1961, at the age of 19 and in an act of youthful defiance, Jeff traded the cornfields of Indiana for olive drab fatigues when he joined the United States Air Force. He became a “crypto” nerd and likely did some spooky government stuff while assigned to the United States Air Force Security Service. His time in Okinawa left an indelible mark on his memory because it was about the only thing he could recall in his later years. He was honorably discharged in 1965 at the rank of Airman First Class and returned to Fowler, IN where he married his love and his life, Marcella ‘Marcie’ Kidwell. Together they created a small village of nine children, thirty grandchildren, and thirty-four great grandchildren (and counting).
Jeff was a member of Queen of Angels Catholic Church and a Fourth-Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He spent his professional career as a Software Engineer, having landed his first job only after lying about his ability to write in code, then spending the weekend learning it. He was brilliant. Electronics and computers were his passion, and he designed technologies well ahead of their time. It was not uncommon to see robots in the house, and he once created an electronic ‘butler’ - a precursor to the current ‘smart home.’ It’s likely he continued to do some spooky government stuff until he retired…and perhaps beyond.
Throughout his life, Jeff desired to leave behind a legacy, and although his children never formed the singing and dancing family band he envisioned, the stories of him will be told for generations. His many quips like, “Yo bro” and “’Tis what it ‘tis…” will be his epitaph. Jeff’s “tapestry” of obscenities after hammering his own thumb – or bending a nail – rivaled “The Old Man,” and his family is certain “Christmas Vacation” was his biopic.
His legacy was more than humor. His family saw in him a man who at times struggled with faith, family, and life, but learned from him that success is found through the same. They learned from him that it is OK to fail – it means you’re trying, and that the difficult path is usually the righteous one. They learned from him that giving is more about what you don’t have than what you do. (Luke 21:1-4) They also learned how to “raise the roof,” literally spending the better part of their youth renovating the family homestead. Jeff would later say the 30-year venture was less about adding much needed living space for the growing family and more about spending quality time with his children. A true labor of love.
Surrounded by so many who loved him, his last hours were an exhibition of his legacy, and his exit resembled a glorious parade… And there he was, the hero of the parade, draped in the beautiful red, white, and blue colors of Old Glory. Charismatic, commanding. His presence captivated the crowd. Deliberate and precise was his path, moving with the rhythm of the unseen marching band that followed. He radiated joy, love, and kindness, drawing near those around him. As he moved through the crowd, both silently and with thunderous pomp, heavenly angels swirled about him like performers and entertainers in a spectacle befitting the occasion. The man was beyond what he appeared to be - a husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather; a brother, an uncle, a friend. He was a celebration. He left a lasting impression of faith and family, of love and joy, and of service on the hearts and minds of those around him. Slowly and reverently, he moved out of sight, leaving this world for a hero’s welcome in the arms of our Heavenly Father.
Jeff is survived by his wife, Marcella; children Carolyn (Steve) Horn, Jeff (Allison) Stineburg, Cheri (Jeff) Elderkin, Teri (Bill) Stoots, Anthony Stineburg, Shannon (Carrie) Stineburg, Laurie (Lewis) Boykin, John Stineburg, and David (Vanessa) Stineburg; thirty grandchildren; thirty-four great grandchildren; and siblings, Jacqueline Kurlich, Mike Pilotte, Steve Pilotte, Pete Pilotte, and Charles McCartney. Jeff was preceded in death by his parents, Charles Robert Stineburg and Ruth Ann Pilotte, and siblings Linda Hanes and Terrance McCartney.
Mass and burial will be Thursday, May 18, 2023 at 11 a.m. at Queen of Angels Catholic Church, 1500 W. State Blvd, Fort Wayne, IN. Calling will also be Thursday, May 18, 2023 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Divine Mercy Funeral Home, 3500 Lake Ave., Fort Wayne, IN. Memorials may be directed to the Women’s Care Center. Share memories and condolences at www.divinemercyfuneralhome.com