Remembering RMHS Security Guard James Steiner


In the community that makes up RMHS, each person has a role to fulfill. As each person steps into their role whether they are a student or staff member, they establish meaningful relationships and impact one another in some significant manner. The phrase “it takes a village,” applies to every student who attends RMHS as there are several who take part in educating and preparing the student for life post-high school. 

However, it is important to remember that it is not only the adults inside the classroom that connect with students as they learn and grow. During his years here at RMHS as a security guard, James Steiner touched the hearts of many and became an admired and loved member of the community. His sudden and unexpected passing on Feb. 10th, 2020 came as devastating news to everyone at RMHS, including those who knew him well and to those who became familiar by simply seeing him as he worked throughout the building.

“[Steiner] had a bright personality,” sophomore Ryan Joyce said. “He used to joke [around] with me during lunch or in-between class periods when I saw him. [He] never failed to bring a smile to my face. He was so good at making serious situations less serious. He was able to change a room from anger and sadness to smiles and joy in a matter of seconds. He always had a comment ready for whatever situation and he never failed to crack people up.”

As students picked up on the easygoing and good-natured attitude Steiner carried, some sought that out regularly to battle the hardships they were going through and find a friend in an adult who had experienced similar challenges in his life before. 

“James was always the security guard that gave you a smile and asked how your day was, whether he knew you or not,” RMHS alumni Joshua Beller said. “He wanted you to know you always had a friend in him, regardless of the circumstances. James was not only a security guard to me, but he was a mentor when you needed guiding, an ear when you needed to vent and a shoulder when you needed one to cry on. I will always remember James as being the guy who would make sure I was on the right path. He always made it a point to find me at some point in every school day to pull me aside and see how my day was going. He was more than a security guard; he was a mentor and a leader.”

 Many of Steiner’s life lessons and experience that gave way to him being a mentor for others was the fact that he was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, having served two tours in Iraq. Steiner was a senior in high school when he enlisted, compelled to take action merely days after witnessing the horrific events and aftermath of 9/11 unravel live on television.

 Steiner’s courage, compassion and service are especially admired by his former classmate, substitute teacher Ryan Tures. Tures was a classmate of Steiner’s since 1989-1990 as a kindergartener at Lions Park Elementary School. 

 “I will always remember James for his passion and sincerity,” Tures said. “It was a pleasure seeing James when subbing at RMHS the past 12 months.”

Another member of the RMHS community who has known Steiner before his days as an RMHS security guard is retired English teacher and badminton coach Liz Brandl Kirby. Kirby met Steiner when he was 17 years old as a senior at Prospect high school when she worked there from 2001-2002 and was also his teacher when he took a night school course at Young Adult Program. 

 “Not only is he a ‘protector of the underdog’ at his core, but James has also always been kind and friendly, a careful listener, ready for a good ‘discussion’ or solid argument and eager to learn from others’ opinions and perspectives,” Kirby said. “Even when he was just a kid, James appreciated my position as a teacher and respected me as an adult. But as he grew up, we became peers and friends, for we were like-minded in our concern for the needs of teenagers, especially those who had challenges, whether academic, physical or emotional. Although he may have looked like a tough guy, James had a soft heart and would help anyone who needed it… But he never crossed the line. He had a special talent for being friendly but professional at all times which made him both liked and admired by students and staff.”

A loss in this community can be considered deleterious as students and staff develop different relationships meaningful on both ends. Steiner meant something to almost every student and staff member and there is a collective appreciation for what he had to offer to others through his kindness, courage and wisdom.

“I will always remember James’s kindness, sense of humor, honesty, and good-natured attitude,” Kirby said. “In addition, I will always be thankful for his patriotism and willingness to risk his life to protect our freedoms and those of our allies around the world. He should be remembered as a D214 professional and protector of everyone in the RMHS community, as well as a lover of animals and children, a devoted family man and a dedicated friend. It’ll be hard not seeing James in the halls and cafeteria greeting kids and staff each day, but the memory of his solid stance, his soft blue eyes, and his ready grin will be present in our hearts for years to come.”