Doris B. Steinberg, 87, formerly of East Falls, the founder of East Falls Village, a community organization that helps seniors remain in their homes, died Wednesday, Dec. 13, of dementia at Cathedral Village in Andorra.
Mrs. Steinberg resided in East Falls for more than four decades. In 2011, seeing the need for a support system to help older adults age in place rather than move to nursing or retirement homes, she established East Falls Village. The nonprofit has almost 200 members.
Mrs. Steinberg adapted the template of the national village movement begun in Boston in 2002 with the founding of Beacon Hill Village. Currently, there are 230 such villages in the United States. There are two others here: the Northwest Village Network serving Northwest Philadelphia and Penn's Village serving Center City.
Members pay a small fee and are given an on-call number staffed by a volunteer. The members can phone in for help with home repairs and rides to doctors, the supermarket, and medical appointments. The group also sponsors activities such as yoga, walks, tours, and bridge games.
"It was Doris who was the instigator and the inspiration for East Falls Village, which has been so good for all of us," said volunteer Joe Terry.
"She read in the New York Times about the first village in Beacon Hill, Boston. She called some of us, and we held meetings in her dining room.
"She was so well-liked and respected in the community that she got people to join the bandwagon, and that is why we are where we are," Terry said. "She was a wonderful, wonderful person."
Charlie Gay, who took the reins of the organization after Mrs. Steinberg and her husband, Philip, retired to Cathedral Village, said she "was a pleasure to work with and a constant boost to our morale."
Mary Flournoy, cochair of the village's operating group, said Mrs. Steinberg was a natural as a convener. "We really call her the mother of East Falls Village," she said. "We all feel the loss of Doris, even though she and her husband moved to Cathedral Village a few years ago."
The eldest of three children, Mrs. Steinberg grew up in Sellersville, Bucks County. She graduated from Sell-Perk High School in 1947 and often talked of playing the lead role of Emily in the students' production of Our Town. She attended Temple University.
She worked for many years in the development office of the University of Pennsylvania, devoting herself to memorial giving. She retired in 1995.
She was an active supporter of other organizations in East Falls, including the East Falls Library, a branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Mrs. Steinberg loved to read and to share that love with others. She joined several book clubs and enjoyed tutoring elementary-school children in reading.
In the 1990s, Mrs. Steinberg served as chair of the board of directors of Maxwell Mansion, a Victorian house museum in Germantown. The volunteer work she did on the mansion's behalf helped prevent it from closing, her family said.
She was a longtime active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, where she served on the board of trustees and as chair of a committee that arranged an annual Christmas party for residents of the Presbyterian Riverside Apartments, 158 N. 23rd St. The apartments provide subsidized housing for older adults and the disabled.
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Steinberg is survived by daughters Susan Steinberg and Mimi Satterthwaite; four grandchildren; and a brother.
A visitation from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5, at the McIlvaine Funeral Home, 3711 Midvale Ave., will be followed by an 11 a.m. memorial service Saturday, Jan. 6, at the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, 201 S. 21st St., Philadelphia 19103. Burial is private.
Memorial donations may be made to the Falls of Schuylkill Library, 3501 Midvale Ave., Philadelphia 19129, or to the church at the address above.