COLUMBUS — You may not have known her name, but most everyone in Columbus recognized Pat Steiner.
She was everywhere. If there was a community celebration, school activity or public get-together, there’s a good chance Steiner was in attendance.
“She loved her community and she loved being a part of it,” said Steiner’s niece Laura Engquist, who considers the people of Columbus part of her aunt’s extended family.
The way Steiner got to every one of those events made her stand out.
She was the bike lady.
Steiner went everywhere on her bicycle.
“She loved just traveling around the town,” said Steiner’s sister Mary Bierman.
Her bike was parked in front of Daylight Donuts nearly every morning while Steiner stopped in for the regular — two maple Long Johns and a maple cake doughnut covered with peanuts.
“And she always had a Mountain Dew,” said Daylight Donuts owner Kirby Johnson, who didn’t know Steiner personally but always appreciated her visits.
“She enjoyed coming in here and we enjoyed having her,” he said.
That was part of the daily routine for Steiner.
She stopped in The Telegram office every weekday morning to read the local news from her chair near the front windows. There were always questions for the newspaper employees about their families and children.
“She had an amazing memory — amazing,” Engquist said.
Steiner came from a family of 13 siblings with countless nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. Yet she never forgot a birthday or anniversary, whether it was a family member, neighbor or someone she met briefly at a local event. They all got a card with a few bucks in it.
“She would just remember everything,” said Bierman. “You tell her a birthday, she wouldn’t forget it.”
Steiner also never missed a chance to watch her nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews at school functions — and she was quick to tell people who she was there to see.
“She was very proud of them,” Bierman said.
Although Steiner was never married and had no children of her own, she loved kids.
“She always made us and our kids feel important and feel special,” said Engquist, whose aunt spent Easter Sunday with the family, watching the kids fill eggs with candy and talking to the Biermans’ dog Riley.
Steiner also loved animals.
That’s how Platte County Agricultural Park general manager Brian Palmer met her.
She was a regular at Ag Park during the racing season and couldn’t walk past one of the barns without picking some grass to feed to the horses.
“Her love for animals was amazing,” said Palmer.
Many of the people involved with the races knew Steiner — whether it was by name or not — and she was always around for the county fair to check out the livestock and youth exhibits.
“She was very loved by all the horsemen,” Palmer said. “They always enjoyed visiting with her and letting her pet their horses.”
That’s the type of story Steiner’s family has been hearing over and over since she was struck by a car and killed Monday night while riding her bicycle along Eighth Street.
The “eccentric,” “colorful” and “kind” 77-year-old touched a lot of lives during her time in Columbus, where she moved during high school after growing up in Humphrey.
Steiner stopped by the Casey’s General Store along Eighth Street “pretty much every day,” according to employee Kim Kaminski, who would watch her tend to graves at the nearby cemetery before snacking on popcorn chicken at the convenience store.
Kaminski talked to Steiner early Monday evening about the family Easter and watching the children search for eggs. Everyone there looked forward to visiting with her, Kaminski said.
“She was a woman who was really well-loved,” Kaminski said. “We all enjoyed her and we’re going to miss her terribly.”
The same thing can be said about those at St. Bonaventure Catholic Church, where Steiner will be remembered Friday morning during her funeral service.
Steiner never missed a Mass and was always there to greet people at the back of the church.
“She made every funeral dinner in town, no matter what parish,” said Belinda Keiter, who works at St. Bonaventure.
Father Michael Swanton described Steiner as a “very religious, faith-filled person.”
“She was definitely a fixture around here and, of course, throughout the whole community,” he said.
An example of that commitment to her faith came about two years ago when Steiner was recovering at Golden LivingCenter after breaking her leg when she was struck by a vehicle while riding her bike along 12th Avenue.
It was cold, windy and snowing outside and Steiner needed a walker to get around, but she still made her way to the church without assistance.
“She just pushed the walker through the snow,” said her brother-in-law Gene Bierman.
That first accident also displayed Steiner’s stubbornness.
She refused to sell her home and move into the assisted living facility full time. Instead, she recovered from the leg injury and got a new three-wheeled bike to cruise around town on.
“She kind of ruled the town I think — in a good sort of way,” said Keiter, who expects a big turnout for Friday’s funeral.
After all, nearly everyone in Columbus knew the bike lady.