Orangewood’s Bill Steiner Takes Job With Foundation

Times Staff Writer

William G. Steiner, director of the Orangewood Children’s Home and perhaps the best-known child advocate in the county, resigned Wednesday to become executive director of the private organization that was instrumental in constructing the $7.8-million facility.

Steiner, 48, was the prime mover behind the 170-bed children’s shelter project in Orange. The Orangewood Foundation, which he will direct beginning April 4, was responsible for raising more than 80% of the $7.8 million collected to build the 82,000-square-foot, Spanish-style complex of 12 buildings.

The children’s shelter was inaugurated Nov. 4 and replaced the Albert Sitton Home for Children, which is located next to the new facility. Steiner was director of the Albert Sitton Home for eight years before assuming the same duties when Orangewood opened.


Broader Children’s Issues

In submitting his resignation to the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, Steiner said his new job will enable him to work on broader children’s issues in the county and also raise money for children’s programs. His first task at the foundation will be to raise funds to pay off a $775,000 construction loan left from the Orangewood project.

“I’m leaving because the new shelter has been built and it is time to move on to a new challenge,” he said. “The Orangewood Foundation provides me with the best opportunity for involvement with the private sector in dealing with children’s issues in the county.”

Steiner, who has lived in Orange County for 18 years, expressed regret over leaving his present post.

“My employment with the county over the past eight years has been an extremely positive experience. The completion of Orangewood Children’s Home represents the highlight of my professional career,” he added.

Robert Theemling, the shelter’s program manager and Steiner’s chief assistant, will assume Steiner’s responsibilities.

Steiner, who brought a warm “kids-are-people-too” attitude to his job, was affectionately known as Bill to the thousands of abused and neglected children he and his staff sheltered over the years.


“Bill is truly amazing,” Juvenile Court Judge Betty Lou Lamoreaux said recently. “There are more than 150 kids at Orangewood on any given day, and Bill knows just about every one of their names.”

Steiner served as director of Good Samaritan Centers, a nonprofit agency serving neglected children throughout the state, for 11 years before he assumed the directorship of Albert Sitton Home.

Steiner, who is also vice president of the Orange Unified School District board, received the first annual Child Advocate of the Year Award in 1983 from the Orange County Child Abuse Council.

Shortly before Steiner won that award, he received a letter from a 20-year-old Marine who spent most of his childhood in and out of Albert Sitton Home. As a youngster, the Marine had been abandoned by his father. His mother and stepfather later committed suicide.

“I don’t think I’ve met anyone quite like you, Bill,” the Marine wrote. “If I could think of a special award that is given to the person who cares the most, you would definitely be the one to get it.

“I know I’ve never said it to your face, but I wish I would have had a father like you when I was growing up. I think I wouldn’t have had some of the problems I had.”


Steiner and his wife, Nancy, have five children. They are also foster parents for the Children’s Home Society. Gov. George Deukmejian recently appointed Steiner to the State Child Development Programs Advisory Committee.