Edward J. “Ed” Steimel
Edward J. “Ed” Steimel
Throughout a long career in Louisiana politics, Edward J. “Ed” Steimel was a tireless advocate for reform policies and creating economic opportunity for the citizens of his adopted home state. Steimel was born in Running Lake, Arkansas on January 20, 1922. He grew up in a home that was the center of a small community and served as both a country store and post office run by his mother, Josephine Steimel. His father, George Steimel, was a local attorney.
After attending the local schools, Steimel enrolled at Beebe Junior Agricultural College and obtained a teaching certificate before returning to work in his hometown’s one-room school. In 1946, Steimel enrolled at Arkansas State College to pursue studies in journalism. In addition to his work in the classroom, he also served as editor of the school’s newspaper and assisted with public relations for the Jonesboro chamber of Commerce. While at Arkansas State, Steimel met and courted his wife, Mary Welch Steimel. The couple married on August 18, 1947 and welcomed their first child, Susanne, exactly one year later. The Steimels would later adopt three more children, Mary Jo, Edward Jr. and George. Steimel graduated in 1949 and was hired by the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce. After a short tenure with the Chamber, Steimel was hired by the newly-formed Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana as their director of public information.
Two years later, Steimel was named PAR’s executive director. He is credited with straightening out the organization’s finances, beefing up their research efforts and giving them a voice both in the State Capitol and around the state. It was during these years that PAR’s research and publications became so well respected that legislators often used their numbers instead of the ones provided by the Governor’s Office when assembling the budget.
After more than 20 years at PAR, Steimel was named president of the newly-formed Louisiana Association of Business and Industry in 1975. After an incredibly heated debate in 1976, Steimel and LABI succeeded in passing Louisiana’s “Right to Work” law, a landmark legislative accomplishment. Steimel would continue to push key reform legislation and pro-business bills until his retirement from LABI in 1989. After leaving LABI, Steimel served as Director of Development for the LSU Foundation.