Meeting Pioneer Day Royalty Howie and Bev Steinbeck

pioneer day royalty

Marshal Howie Steinbeck and Queen Beverly Jespersen Steinbeck.

Couple will represent the pioneers of Paso Robles in parade on October 8

– High school sweethearts and longtime partners Marshal Howie Steinbeck and Queen Beverly Jespersen Steinbeck say they are thrilled to represent the pioneers of Paso Robles in the 2022 Pioneer Day Parade on Oct. 8. They say they are proud to carry on a legacy of seven generations. of pioneers.

Howie’s family includes Marshal Gene Ernst, (1998) and, participating in the first Pioneer Day parade as Belle’s assistant, Howie’s mother, Hazel Ernst Steinbeck. Hazel also participated in the 75th anniversary parade, representing the history of Paso Robles.

Queen Bev was Pioneer Belle in 1957 and grandmother, Jennie Iversen Jespersen, was queen in 1965. Bev says she is honored to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps as queen 57 years later. Howie and Bev’s daughter, Denise, was Belle’s assistant in 1981.

Howie’s great-grandparents, William Ernst and Barbara Amelia Matthis, settled in the Geneseo district of the Paso Robles area in 1884, where they planted wine grapes and built a wine brand. They built the Geneseo School house which is now housed at the Paso Robles Pioneer Museum in Riverside. Howie’s grandparents, Frank Ernst and Rosetta Paulus Ernst, built the ranch house (1921) in which the Steinbecks’ daughter, Cindy, and her husband, Steve, reside.

Bev’s grandfather, Christian Jespersen, was elected several times to the California State Assembly (1926-1930) and died in office as a California State Senator in 1951 (1930-1951). He founded the Chris Jespersen School for Children with Special Needs, located in San Luis Obispo, and a wing at Cal Poly is named in her honor. Bev has vivid childhood memories of her visiting her grandfather at the California state capitol. Senator Jespersen is honored in the annals of Cal Poly history for taking action to secure state funding for the University in the face of the threat of closure. She received Cal Poly’s first honorary degree in 1948. Bev also remembers the sad story of her childhood when her grandmother’s Victorian home was claimed by eminent domain while Highway 101 was being widened at Morro Road.

The stories flow from Howie as he recalls growing grain with the Ernst brothers as a boy, hunting black-tailed deer and chipmunk in Paso, and annual trips to Colorado to trap mule deer. The Ernst brothers owned the barn, now home to Cool Hand Luke’s, and were the first to distribute bulk grain by train to market. The stories of music that fill old ranch houses on Sunday afternoons and the creation of the Creston Band in 1895 are also on the tip of Howie’s tongue, as he rides around in the family’s 1958 Willys Jeep to guide the tours of Steinbeck Vineyards.

The Ernst family’s agricultural legacy includes growing grapes and making wine between 1884 and 1950. Howie and Bev began planting grapes in the modern era in 1982, partnering with Gary Eberle. Today, the legacy continues as daughter Cindy, and grandsons Ryan and Bryan work together to continue the family’s farming and winemaking legacy. The Ernst and Iversen families grew grain and raised cattle. The Jespersen families raised dairy cattle and grew hay until the early 1960s, when they moved north to Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Howie’s father, George Steinbeck, hailed from Oakland, California, where his family owned a wholesale meat business, Steinbeck-Theiss Meat Company. George’s brothers continued in the family business while he, after considering a major league baseball contract, chose to become a minister in the Lutheran Church. While serving as vicar at Trinity Lutheran Church in Paso Robles, George met Hazel Ernst, Howie’s mother. He served in the US Army on the front lines in World War II as a chaplain.

Howie and Bev’s volunteer work in this community reached far and wide, feeding thousands of people with delicious BBQ tri-tip, potato salad and all the fixings. For over 25 years, they have hosted the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance BBQ. The Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce Ag Tour Committee has benefited from his dedicated service for nearly 30 years, as year after year he fed hundreds of people who attended the annual Ag Tour, benefiting Ag in the Classroom. The pair have been recognized by the chamber as Citizens of the Month and by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance as Industry Persons of the Year (2006).

Its impact reaches the Christian community of Paso Robles. Trinity Lutheran Church was home to the Jespersen, Iversen, Ernst, and Steinbeck families. George and Hazel married at Trinity in 1934, Howie and Bev in 1959. They helped establish Trinity Lutheran School (1962). Creston Community Church is home to your church today.

The family’s rich history can be seen in detail at Steinbecks’ historic museum-like tasting room on Union Road or on their website

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