Wenatchee Remembers Beloved Community Leader

More than two hundred people gathered at the Wenatchee Adventist Church Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021 to celebrate the life of Charles R. Steinberg.

The prominent Wenatchee attorney and two-time Chelan County judicial candidate died Sept. 21, 2021 after collapsing at his home.

The service, held in Steinberg’s home church, was attended by people from all walks of life. Dozens of people took the opportunity to share memories of this humble man who touched all who knew him. Many were moved to tears as friends and family recounted how Steinberg befriended, cared for, mentored and served all in his sphere of influence.

People shared how Steinberg had served them in a professional capacity with genuine care and attention. A Washington state chess champion, he enjoyed applying his analytical skills to solve people’s legal problems at his law practice. 

“I worked with Charles for eight years. He was one of the nicest business owners in the whole town, and I’ve dealt with a lot [of them],” said a radio ad rep. “He always treated me extremely well.”

Another person sharing memories said, “I was nervous about seeing a lawyer, but Charles put me at ease right from the start.” It didn’t take long and they knew they had a life-long friend.

This sentiment was echoed by yet another friend. “Charles was my lawyer, but beyond that, it’s kind of unique when your lawyer is one of your best friends. Charles always had good advice for me.”

People of all ages attended the service, including many friends of Steinberg’s daughter, Sophia. As they shared their memories, it was evident that Steinberg genuinely took an interest in each one of them. 

“The Steinbergs’ moved next door to us when I was growing up,” said a young neighbor. “Charles shared my competitive spirit and was always up for whatever game I was in the mood for.”

Another young person said, “Their house was always just a very safe place. Charles and Joni are some of the most truly warm, kind and respectful people I’ve ever met.”

Steinberg felt joy when serving others. He often helped feed homeless people in Wenatchee’s Locomotive Park on Saturday afternoons. His generosity was the subject of many stories. 

Steinberg is also known for the pro bono work he performed on behalf of religious liberty organizations, including the Northwest Religious Liberty Association, a nonprofit advocacy arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to which he belonged. He was vice president of the association for 22 years.

Andre Wang, North Pacific Union general counsel and director of public affairs and religious liberty for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Northwest, shared his memories in a video.

Steinberg frequently argued on behalf of churches and institutions challenging civic law on religious-freedom grounds. In 2001, he helped strike down a King County moratorium on the construction of large churches or private schools in rural areas. 

His religious liberty work wasn’t limited to local issues. In 2021, he won a U.S. District Court case in partnership with the Becket Fund that guarantees accommodation for Sabbath-keeping athletes.

Steinberg grew up in Shoreline, Washington and studied law at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, before relocating to Wenatchee in 1994. He opened his private practice that year. He twice ran for Chelan County Superior Court judge, in 2012 and 2018.

Steinberg is survived by his wife Joni, and an adult daughter, Sophia. He was 55.

Featured in: January/February 2022


Jay Wintermeyer

North Pacific Union assistant to the president for communication and Gleaner editor