David Steinborn, who served three terms as Las Cruces’ mayor and was later a partner in a project to develop the city’s east side, died Tuesday in Dallas. He was 79.
“It is with great sadness that my family and I share the news of the passing of our dad, David Steinborn,” one of his sons, state Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, wrote on Facebook. “He was a great man who we all learned so much from. We will miss him dearly.”
David Steinborn was battling pancreatic cancer, said John Hummer, who purchased Steinborn’s real estate company from him several years ago. Four weeks ago, Steinborn was “upright and feeling great after finishing a low dose of chemo,” but then the cancer “erupted and was aggressive,” Hummer said.
“David is one of those true friends in my life,” Hummer said. “I have been blessed beyond measure, and a better person, having David as a friend and mentor.”
Las Crucens elected Steinborn, a Democrat, to be their mayor three times. He left public office 1987. He held many other local, state and national political and government positions. Former Gov. Toney Anaya appointed him to the Rapid Rail Task Force. Former Gov. Bruce King appointed him to chair the New Mexico Environment Board. Former Gov. Gary Johnson appointed him to the board of New Mexico First and to the state’s Board of Education.
Steinborn also left his mark as a realtor and developer, first in Tucson and later in Las Cruces, where he built one of the most successful real estate companies in the region. He sold that company to Hummer so he could focus on a large-scale development, Sonoma Ranch, he and other partners were building on Las Cruces’ east side during a time of rapid growth for the city.
Steinborn was also active in the Jewish community in Las Cruces. During his time here, he served as Temple Beth-El president and as chair of a campaign to build the new Jewish temple in the Sonoma Ranch development.
Hummer said what motivated Steinborn most was his family.
“He absolutely loved to tell me about the latest events and accomplishments in each of their lives,” Hummer said.
It was family that took Steinborn from Las Cruces to Dallas in 2008. He and his wife Vivian moved there with their youngest daughter Amanda, who is currently a high-school junior, so Amanda could further her Jewish education. Steinborn commuted between Dallas and Las Cruces for a time while he worked on the Sonoma Ranch project.
‘The importance of doing good’
Steinborn was born on March 29, 1936 in Detroit. He twice moved back and forth between Detroit and Tucson during his childhood and college years before beginning his real estate career in Tucson in 1961. In 1963 he moved to Las Cruces after buying the Del Prado Motel on West Picacho Avenue. He started his own real estate office in Las Cruces in 1967.
Steinborn and his wife were married for 36 years.
He is also survived by six children — Lauren and her husband Dan Cronin; Alan and his wife Stephanie; Mary; Dan; Jeff; and Amanda. Steinborn is also survived by one granddaughter, Arwen, who is the daughter of Lauren and Dan.
Steinborn’s obituary touts that his five adult children “are all college graduates and are productive, socially conscious adults, doing good work in their chosen careers.” In other words, they’re like their father in that regard.
“David was a man who believed in the importance of doing good and being honest,” his obituary states.
“He knew that it was possible to participate in creating a better society while being personally successful in his career,” the obit states. “With his tireless energy, vast knowledge and experience, and charismatic personality, he was frequently called upon to take a leadership role because others knew that David would get the job done well.”
Many Las Crucens remembered Steinborn warmly on Wednesday. Among them was Audrey Hardman-Hartley, who said she met Steinborn when he was mayor and she was a reporter for KRWG-TV.
“He always gave a good interview, was professional, and treated me well,” she wrote on Facebook. “Many years later, our children all became friends. I remember us all taking the girls trick-or-treating together, and David’s hilarious sense of humor.”
Linda Morris of Las Cruces wrote on Facebook that Steinborn would “be missed by many.”
“Thank you dear David, you were someone I looked up too and valued for your knowledge, honesty and leadership,” Morris wrote.
Jacques Ohayon of Dallas, who knew Steinborn through the Jewish community there, called him “a special special person that made you know he cared and was always warm.”
Even former N.M. Gov. Bill Richardson chimed in, telling the Las Cruces Sun-News that Steinborn was “a pioneer, a leader in Las Cruces in so many ways.”
“He leaves a great legacy of accomplishment, great public service and a wonderful family,” the newspaper quoted Richardson as saying.
Services will be held at Sparkman-Hillcrest Cemetery in Dallas on Thursday, with burial to follow in that city. Jeff Steinborn asked that any gifts or donations be made to Mesilla Valley Hospice in Las Cruces or Shaare Tefilla Building Fund in Dallas.