Born: April 24, 1901, the son of William Steenken Sr. and Louise Betsch

Died: October 2, 1983

Married: Geraldine McIntyre

Children: William Greenlaw Steenken, Gerald Edward Steenken, and Mrs. Frances Brown

Dr. William Steenken Jr. was Associate Director of Trudeau-Saranac Institute and the Director of Research at the Saranac Laboratory. He is buried St. John's in the Wilderness Episcopal Cemetery.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 14, 1948

William Steenken at Streptomycin Meet

(Special to the Daily Enterprise)

CHICAGO, Ill., April 14— William Steenken, head of the Trudeau laboratory, Trudeau, N.Y., is here for the 5th Streptomycin conference of the Veterans Administration of which he is one of the chief laboratory consultants.

While in Chicago, Mr. Steenken will also attend a meeting of the Three Central Laboratories, of which the Trudeau laboratory is one, of the U. S. Public Health Service Streptomycin Research program.

At the latter meeting, there will be a discussion of the overall problems in research as well as the laboratory control of the clinical program.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 4, 1955

" . . . . REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT , . . . .

When William Steenken Jr., head of the Trudeau Laboratory received his honorary Doctor of Science at the University of Maryland on Saturday, university officials, as is the custom, publicly reviewed his qualifications. These were some of the words used; "A distinguished bacteriologist whose career has been devoted to the furtherance of knowledge in the field of medicine. . . . I am glad to present this gentleman of high ideals and remarkable achievement…."

Anyone who knows Bill Steenken knows how true those words are.

Bill is another of Saranac Lake's unique success stories and one of its finest. He came here as a patient 30 years ago, deathly ill, right after high school. That ended his formal schooling. He cured at Trudeau and went to work in the Trudeau lab washing test tubes. He was eager to learn and fine men were glad to teach him. After them he had to learn for himself and he did, the hard way.

Nobody "gave" Bill Steenken an honorary degree last Saturday. He worked for that degree as any Ph.D. ever did and over many more years.

For the last decade of his career Bill has been one of that small group of top scientists and doctors who battle tuberculosis in this country. Men with long strings of degrees and many years of formal university work have been eager to listen to him, happy to appoint him to their committees and even to serve with him.

They have not only been impressed with his knowledge, trained by years of self-training. Even more important, they have admired his integrity, the integrity that is the hallmark of the true scientist. No matter how he might wish some of his experiments and findings could be otherwise than they are, he has to see with clearest vision and report with full honesty. That sort of integrity Bill Steenken has.

Today Bill is a highly trusted advisor to the United States Public Health Service, consultant to the VA. He is known world round for his work with the Trudeau TB Culture Bank that supplies samples of living cultures to scientists in Europe, Asia and South America. As much as any man, he made the name of Saranac Lake known in distant places.

Manufacturers who find that their new drugs check TB in mice turn to Bill and his staff to carry their work on from there and eagerly await the findings that will eventually come from the Trudeau laboratory. Thousands of dollars and thousands of hopes may hang on that word.

In a Veterans Administration streptomycin conference report published a few years ago Bill is described as one of the men responsible for suggesting that PAS be used with streptomycin to check the resistance-building quality of that drug. People who never heard of Bill Steenken and his associates are well and alive today, thanks to that suggestion.

"A gentleman of remarkable achievement"—who climbed back on his feet 30 years ago, after a critical illness and started washing test tubes.

—W.C.W. [likely William Chapman White]

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Friday, April 6, 1962


It has been announced by the National Advisory Allergy Infectious Diseases Council of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, U. S. Public Health Service, that Dr. William Steenken Jr., Director of the Trudeau Laboratory, is the recipient of grants in the amount of $32,599 a year for five years commencing November 1, 1962, or a total of $162,995 for the five year period which will terminate in October 1, for the continuation of his studies in tuberculosis

Dr. Steenken is the recipient also, of a grant in the amount of $13,270 from the Tuberculosis Association for maintenance of a culture bank which distributes standard cultures of tubercle bacilli to responsible investigators throughout the world. This grant will become effective July 1, 1962 and terminate June 30, 1964.

The competition for the above funds is keen and they are highly sought. Therefore the awards speak well for the research being conducted at the Trudeau Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Steenken.

Dr. Steenken has just returned from Washington, D. C. where he gave a paper at the National Institutes of Health, at a session of grantees held on immunity and pathogenesis of mycobacterial diseases.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Monday, October 7, 1968

Dr. Steenken retired in April 1966, after more than 40 years of active research wth the Trudeau Foundation. He had been director of the Trudeau Laboratories for more than 20 years and was head of the Department of Microbiology.

In May 1965 Dr. Steenken was the recipient of the highest honor offered by the National Tuberculosis Association, the Trudeau Medal, given for the most meritorious contribution on the cause, prevention and treatment of tuberculosis.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 3, 1983

William Steenken, leading researcher, dies

SARANAC LAKE - Dr. William Steenken, 82, of 135 Park Avenue, director of Trudeau Laboratory from 1947 to 1965, died yesterday evening at Uihlein Mercy Center in Lake Placid. He had been a resident of the center for the past three years and had been a resident of Saranac Lake since 1925.

Dr. Steenken had been employed by the Trudeau Foundation for 40 years and was director of the Trudeau School of Tuberculosis since 1954. He was also a trustee of the Trudeau Foundation until 1973.

He published 170 papers in his field of research during his lifetime; these included many original investigations of the tubercle bacillus. He started a standard culture depot in 1916 which reportedly is of immense value internationally and permits comparison of the work of one laboratory with another.

Dr. Steenken's honors include the Medal of the University of Liege, Belgium, for research in the field of experimental tuberculosis in 1949; the Pasteur Medal of the Pasteur Institute, Lille, France, for research in tuberculosis in 1953; an Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Maryland in 1955 and the Trudeau Medal of National Tuberculosis Association in 1965.

He was named to the American Lung Association 75th Anniversary Hall of Fame in 1980.

He was past president of the Saranac Lake Medical Society, a consultant to the Veterans' Administration and the United States Public Health Department in Washington, D.C., and was listed in Who's Who in America during the 1950's.

Dr. Steenken was born April 24, 1901, in Brooklyn, the son of William and Louisa (Betsch) Steenken. Survivors include his wife, Geraldine (McIntyre) Steenken, whom he wed Sept. 13, 1933; a son, William G. Steenken of Hamilton, Ohio; a grandson, Willie Steenken and a granddaughter, Shelley Steenken, both of Hamilton, Ohio; a brother, Edward E. of Long Island; a sister, Mrs. Frank Merritt of Lewisburg, Pa.; and several nieces and nephews.

A son, Gerald E., died in 1965.

Dr. Steenken was an avid rabbit hunter, a figure skater and past member of the Lake Placid Figure Skating Club. He also painted landscapes.

Calling hours will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. tomorrow at the Fortune Funeral Home.

A memorial service will be held at 8 p.m., Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church, with the Rev. John McClester officiating.

Burial will be in St. John's Cemetery in Paul Smiths.

Memorial donations may be made to the Saranac Lake Free Library

From the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 21, 1955. See Trudeau Foundation.


Bill Steenken, as he is known in the community, was born in Brooklyn in 1901, and first came to Saranac Lake when his father was a patient here in 1924.

A graduate of Columbia University, Mr. Steenken was a chemist for the Wright Martin Aircraft Company and the National Sugar Refining Company before coming to work at the Saranac Laboratory.

He was awarded a medal by the University of Liege, Belgium, in 1949, for his contributions to the field of experimental tuberculosis. In 1953 he was awarded the Pasteur Medal by the Pasteur Institute, Lille, France, for his research work in TB.

Mr. Steenken has published 112 papers on chest disease. He has lectured in London, Brussels, Liege, Paris and Lausanne.

Mr. Steenken is a member of the National Research Council and consultant to the U.S. Public Health Service and to the Veterans Administration.

Mr. and Mrs. Steenken have two children, William G. and Gerald. Both the Schepers and Steenkens live at Trudeau.


2011-01-19 12:36:38   Mary, Would you please check to see if a TB card exists for William—-Thanks again, Stephanie —

2012-02-06 17:39:43   I looked last week but found no cards for anyone named Steenken. Sorry. —MaryHotaling