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If working for a large regional newspaper was like working in the major leagues, then Peter Steinert was an unassuming, talented all-star.

For nearly 30 years, Steinert worked as a sports copy editor at the Star Tribune, thoughtfully editing stories, crafting clever headlines and designing pages. He was well-respected by colleagues as a reliable, hard-working editor whose quiet demeanor brought a calm presence to often chaotic night shifts with demanding deadlines.

"If there were championships [in newspapers], he'd be a champion, that's how good he was at it," said Kevin Bertels, a colleague and friend of 25 years. "He was a seriously successful journalist who also managed to treat people right. … Dignity amid strife is what Pete Steinert brought to the copy desk and to life."

Steinert, 55, of Minneapolis died Feb. 10 after battling cancer for about a year.

Sports was a big part of Steinert's life from an early age, playing Little League while growing up in the Detroit suburbs, the third of four boys. No matter the time of year, the brothers and their friends gathered to play pickup games — from baseball and football on an empty lot to hockey on a neighbor's frozen pond.

But there was never any trash talk from Steinert on or off the field. He was known as a keen listener who never spoke badly about anyone, seeing the best in everyone, said Jon Sonbay of Farmington Hills, Mich., a childhood friend.

"He's just a good, decent person who you can always rely on," Sonbay said. "If we had more Peters in the world, this would be a better place."

As an avid reader, Steinert was drawn to journalism, joining the high school newspaper and later the college paper at the University of Michigan.

"If you're into sports and journalism, of course covering Michigan football is the big kahuna, and he did get to do that," said his brother, Daniel Steinert of Seattle. "He's one of those people who did what he loved for a living."

After college, he worked six years at the Wichita Eagle in Kansas before coming to the Star Tribune in 1996. In Minneapolis, Steinert worked nights, weekends and many holidays on the sports copy desk, notably coordinating the jam-packed, award-winning Sunday sports section. Steinert was quiet, but he could still command a meeting.

"Because we respected him so much," Bertels said, "when he began to speak, we stopped and listened."

As a copy editor, Steinert had no byline, but readers saw his work every day, even if they didn't know it. He wrote memorable headlines, such as "Let's Skol Crazy" for the Minneapolis Miracle when the Vikings beat the Saints in 2018. He advocated for coverage of lesser-known sports or small college teams. And he was always looking to improve the section, brainstorming ideas up until a lake walk last month with Chris Carr, the assistant Managing Editor for Sports.

"If you're a Star Tribune subscriber who read the sports section over the past two decades, say a private thank you to Pete Steinert. He worked hard for you for many years," Carr said. "I'll never forget about how much he cared about our readers."

Outside work, Steinert loved reading, road trips and, of course, watching or playing sports. He cheered on his beloved Detroit Tigers and played on a 50-plus baseball team. He joined colleagues playing golf and was on a lunch-hour basketball team. The active lifestyle meant that the lifelong bachelor had a wide network of friends.

"He had a really rich life," Dan Steinert said.

In January 2022, Steinert was diagnosed with cancer and wrote in June in the Star Tribune that he sought solace more than ever in sports.

"There is hope even within the realm of new limitations. You learn to truly count your blessings," he wrote.

He returned to work full time last summer, writing that the eight hours was an escape to do work he was passionate about. And he continued to play basketball, golf and baseball, cherishing being outdoors. He relished the sound of the crack of the baseball against a bat or the sight of ducks skirting across open water on a frozen lake and the full moon shining above a state park campsite.

Steinert had innate curiosity, seeking out a new restaurant or museum on trips, Sonbay said. One sight left unchecked: Attend the Kansas City Symphony's concert in the rolling grasslands called the Symphony in the Flint Hills. He designated Bertels to go in his place. In June, his longtime friend and colleague will trek to Kansas in his honor, listening to the orchestra play as the sun sets on the prairie.

Besides his brother Dan, Steinert is survived by his mother, Barbara Steinert of Plymouth, Mich., and brothers John Steinert of Minneapolis and David Steinert of Dearborn Heights, Mich. Services are 10 a.m. Feb. 28 at Annunciation Church in Minneapolis.