89 Years Strong! Happy Birthday to an Extraordinary Man…Who Happens to be My Father

Dear Johnny Working Cover

John Mathias Steinhauer, Sr, and John Mathias Steinhauer, Jr., a photo from the Nashville Banner in the 1930’s in an article about President Roosevelt’s March of Dimes Campaign. My grandfather was a Nashville City Police officer and it was only through the generosity of many Nashville residents that knew him that he was able to send his son for care. He started “paying back” the community immediately and to this day my father has worked hard to continue that effort. This is a working copy of a book cover that I hope to publish within the year.

My father, John Steinhauer, was born on July 23, 1925. The seventh summer of his life was spent like most of the boys his age who lived in East Nashville: riding bikes through the neighborhood, playing sandlot baseball, swimming in the pool at Shelby Park.

Two weeks after his seventh birthday he went for a swim at the pool. The next day he walked out to the car to go to a family picnic and when they got there he wasn’t feeling well. His legs were hurting and he couldn’t walk. His father carried him inside. He would never walk again without crutches or a brace, or without a severe limp.

My dad had contracted what was then known as Infantile Paralysis, and what we now refer to as Polio. The disease affected many people in those days. For some it was fatal. He spent 19 days on his death bed – only able to keep down the occasional Coca-Cola (he has been a lifelong loyal customer). In his day-in-time they called him “crippled.”

My paternal grandfather died when my dad was still a young man. Fortunately he lived long enough to see that his “crippled” son would do fine in this world. He died not long after my mom and dad were married in June of 1952.

John Steinhauer and Ned Ray McWhorter

John Steinhauer, Jr., with future governor Ned Ray McWhorter. At the time of this photo he was serving as the Assistant Chief Bill Clerk in the Tennessee House of Representatives. He served four terms as a State Legislator and his legislative efforts included procuring a hospital for his growing community, a Community College, and reapportionment of the County Court (county legislative body) for equal representation of a growing county population – that had not been done in decades.

I was thinking one day about what a great life my dad has lived, and how I wished his dad could have seen the outcome of his involvement in a variety of places –home, church, serving in elected and appointed positions in state and local government, and at the age of 89 still an active member of The Sertoma Club of Nashville, a civic club he has been a member of for over 60 years.

There is a more in-depth story that I am working on, but on this, his 89th birthday, I wanted to tell him “Happy Birthday,” and “thank you” for living an exceptional life and modeling the essence of a “can do” attitude, and especially for leaving some long-lasting and important marks on the world (besides his exceptional children!).

Happy Birthday Daddy! You are a hero and example to many!


Matt (John M. Steinhauer, III – a name I wear proudly!)


John Mathias Steinhauer, III, and John Mathias Steinhauer, IV – doing our best to carry on the Steinhauer tradition of serving our community!

4 thoughts on “89 Years Strong! Happy Birthday to an Extraordinary Man…Who Happens to be My Father

  1. Absolutely awesome, and fitting for the wonderful person that is your dad. And you are certainly keeping that tradition going yourself! Thank you!

  2. Wonderful article on a great family man. Your entire family is top notch in every way. I am proud to know most of them. God Bless Them.

  3. Matt, thanks for sharing your thoughts and beautiful tribute to your father, “A Living Legend”. His is a life “well lived” and a great example to his family. Happy 89th Birthday, John!

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