Dr. J. Arthur Steitz, 98, a World War II veteran who became a physician with a passion for family medicine, died Sunday, Dec. 15, of natural causes at the Medford Leas retirement community in Burlington County.

Dr. Steitz's 45-year career as a doctor included everything from house calls to emergency room medicine.

Born in Philadelphia, Dr. Steitz earned degrees from Albright College and Jefferson Medical College. Following his service in the Eastern Flying Training Command of the Army Air Corp, he and his family returned to Burlington County, where his wife, Marion, grew up.

In 1947, Dr. Steitz opened a family practice in Mount Holly, where he saw patients in the small community for $1.50 a visit and made house calls for $2 that included delivering babies, his family said.

"Everyone knew him," said his daughter, Constance Zimmer. "He loved being a small-town doctor and making house calls."

In 1964, Dr. Steitz became one of the founders of the Department of Family Practice at Memorial Hospital of Burlington County, which is now Virtua Memorial Hospital.

Nine years later, he went into emergency medicine and eventually landed at the ER in Southern Ocean County, N.J., near his summer home in Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Island.

Dr. Steitz was a competitive sailor, racing lightning boats with his family at Barnegat Light Yacht Club, where he served as 25th Commodore in 1960. He also was an avid bird-watcher who traveled to the Amazon River and Papua, New Guinea, for sightings with his wife, who predeceased him in 2011 after 69 years of marriage.

Dr. Steitz is survived by Zimmer, of Washington; a son, J. Arthur Steitz of Michigan; a sister, Elizabeth McGuire of New York; 10 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Another daughter, Maryann Toedtman, died in 1990.

A memorial service will be held Jan. 18 at 11 a.m. at the Mount Holly Friends Meeting, 81 High St., Mount Holly. Contributions can be made in Dr. Steitz' name to the Rancocas Conservancy, P.O. Box 2188, Vincentown 08088 or to the Mount Holly Friends Meeting.

asteele@phillynews.com

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