John T. Steimer

B.S. Forestry, 1949

John T. Steimer earned his B.S. degree in forestry in 1949. He was employed for five years as a forester for the Pennsylvania Department of Highways, and on weekends he worked as a forestry consultant. In 1955 he decided to help the family business, the Penn Glenn Oil Company, after his father-in-law died. He thought he would go back to forestry, but business was so successful that he founded a sister company, Industrial Terminal Systems Inc. of New Kensington, that packaged petroleum products and chemicals.

By the time he retired as president in 1990 the number of employees had risen from 20 to 120, and he passed the presidency on to his son.
Although Steimer was so busy in those days that he had to hire a forester to manage his own land, he never lost his passion for the woods and streams, nor for his alma mater.

In 1989 he and his wife created the John and Nancy Scholarship in the School of Forest Resources, and the Nancy and John Steimer Professorship in Agricultural Sciences. In the past 16 years, 60 students have received Steimer scholarship awards totaling more than $163,000. The first Steimer Professor was Eva Pell, who later became dean of the Graduate School, and the second is Marc Abrams, professor of forest ecology and physiology. The Steimers also supported the Bryce Jordan Center and the Sarni Tennis Facility, featuring a center court named for them. Subsequently they gave more than $1.1 million to the School of Forest Resources for planning and constructing a new building, and particularly for the Steimer Auditorium.

Penn State named Steimer a Distinguished Alumnus in 1992, the highest honor it can bestow on its graduates. He has served on fund-raising committees of the College of Agricultural Sciences and the University. He is a life member of the Penn State Alumni Association, and belongs to the Presidents Club, the Nittany Lion Club, the Mount Nittany Society, and the Laurel Society.

Steimer says that as a student he had no goals to save the world or save every tree. “Still,” he explains, “the moment I got involved in forestry, I saw how important it was to manage our timber lands. Before I retired, I traveled all over the world and when I came back home, I was always impressed with the wealth of natural resources our state has to offer. Mother Nature did a good job in Pennsylvania but we need to help her keep up the good work.”

April 2005