Remembering Bill Steinkraus

Bill Steinkraus — member of a celebrated Westport family, and the first American to win an Olympic individual gold medal in an equestrian sport — died November 29 in Darien. He was 92.

His death was announced yesterday the United States Equestrian Team Foundation.

According to the New York Times, Steinkraus was considered “one of the greatest riders in the history of equestrian sports.” He was on all 6 Olympics teams from 1952 through 1972.

He won a gold medal in 1968, silver medals in 1960 and 1972, and a bronze in 1952. He was on the US national team for 22 years, including 17 as captain. He was elected chairman in 1983, and chairman emeritus 9 years later. He was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1987.

Bill Steinkraus

Steinkraus was accomplished in many areas. A Yale University graduate and noted violinist, he was an editor in New York. He wrote several books about riding. He was also an expert an old books and antique furniture, a television commentator and an Olympic judge.

Steinkraus rode in Burma in World War II with the US Army’s last mounted regiment. He helped reopen the Burma Road.

Steinkraus grew up in Westport. His sister, Ruth Steinkraus Cohen, was active for many years in local and international affairs, many involving the United Nations. She died in 2002. The downtown Post Road bridge is named for her.

Steinkraus lived with his family in Noroton for many years. In 2016, his estate was put on the market for $175 million.

(Click here for the full New York Times obituary. Hat tip: Susan Iseman)

6 responses to “Remembering Bill Steinkraus

  1. Julie Van Norden

    I remember watching Bill Steinkraus in many a National Horse Show, then shown at Madison Square Garden. He was always exciting to watch. I had no idea of all his other accomplishments. It was quite a ride. RIP.

  2. Remembering the “Good Ole Days ” with Ksar d’Esprit.
    The Angels must be “Jumping with joy “to have him there.

  3. Ann Marie Flynn

    IN my book he was one of the greatest athletes in the world…and for too long a time did not get the recognition he earned and deserved.
    When I joined his sister’s Ruth’s international visiting group I met him for the first time and we realized
    We were both on the 1956 USA Olympic team. His modesty was outstanding. He never mentioned any of the other competitions where he had been a stand-out.
    And one of the joys I had at Ruth’s house was when she was at the piano and Bill had his violin, I’d just happily sit and listen as they played away.
    They both are missed….but now they are together again.

  4. Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

    The passing of another of the one of the people who so quietly made Westport what it is today. We need to remember them and ask how can we contribute where ever we find ourselves.

  5. ok Bill, rest easy now ! sure had lots of good music fun in your beautiful living room playing those Haydn trios with Muffy (Ruth). see you both soon !

  6. Thanks.