Dr. R.E. Lee Steiner served as superintendent of the Oregon State Hospital from 1908 (when he officially took office) through 1937. The following article was published in the Oregon Statesman March 28, 1926.
Dr. R.E. Lee Steiner was born in 1870, at Bluffton, Ohio. When he was 12 years old he began work as an apprentice druggist at Lima, Ohio. He came to Salem with his parents in 1887. He soon went to work in the drug store of Geo. E. Good, in the the Moores building that stood where the present United States National Bank building now stands. After Mr. Good sold out to Gibson & Singleton, he continued to work for the new firm. When he was 19, he went into business for himself, in partnership with Hon. J.C. Smith, now of Grants Pass. They had bought the drug store in which young Steiner was working. The firm name was Smith & Steiner. The telephone office was in their building — the first telephone office in Salem, excepting for a few phones that had been in the Western Union telegraph office. In 1892, Dr. Steiner married Belle Golden of Salem. After his marriage he attended the Willamette university and graduated from the medical department of that institution.
He practiced in Dallas, and then at Lakeview, and after that had charge of the reclamation service work of the United States government at Klamath Falls, the hospital for tat service being there. He served a term in the legislature while residing at Lakeview in 1905.
In 1907 he came from the reclamation work to be superintendent of the state hospital (asylum), and has been at the head of that institution ever since — for nineteen years. That is the longest time ever served by a superintendent there. Dr. Calbreath served eight years, most of the other heads of the institution four years; one five years.
Under Dr. Steiner, the state hospital has become one of the leading institutions of its kind in the United States, or in the world, in point of modern improvements, success in curing patients, and in economical administration. It is a model institution. It is wonderfully well kept in all the vast number of details of its work. Dr. Steiner has become a leader in the country in his chosen line.
Mrs. Dan J. Fry Jr. of Salem and Mrs. E.C. Flegel of Honolulu are daughters of Dr. and Mrs. Steiner, Mr. Flegel is a captain in the United States Army, Milton Steiner, their son, is a junior in the University of Oregon medical school, Portland.