There is something about the Jesuit mantra, “Men for Others,” that has always stuck with Steve Page.
“Most schools,” notes the Loyola High School and Loyola University alumnus, “teach you critical thinking skills, but I’ve not seen the ‘Men for Others’ philosophy anywhere else. It makes you think about how you live every part of your life.”
In Steve’s case, it means remembering how people gave him help when he needed it, and how he is more than happy to do the same for someone else. “I was fortunate,” he says. “Someone helped make that happen for me, and I want to make that opportunity available to others.”
As a successful corporate executive, he has followed through — serving in Catholic Charities’ soup kitchens, establishing corporate internship programs for under-served high school youth, and serving on the boards of institutions devoted to education.
Raised in South Los Angeles and St. Brigid Parish, he was the second of six sons born to Steve and Milla Page who owned and operated Page’s Market. When his dad died, Steve was 17, so he and his older brother took turns helping their mom in the store and watching over the younger boys.
“Things were a little bumpy along the way,” he admits. “Although the store did OK, money was an issue and we struggled. When the area got rough, we got robbed a few times, so we needed to leave the area.”
The family moved to Westchester two years after Steve completed his accounting degree at Loyola University. “Our parents told us we weren’t going to follow them, that we’d be educated,” Steve recalls. “Years later, when my mom died, we could be proud that all six of us had college degrees. Four of us had masters degrees, one had a PhD, two had JDs, four were CPAs, and one was in the priesthood (Father Tony Page, the third oldest, is pastor of Beatitudes of Our Lord in La Mirada).”
Steve holds both CPA and JD certification. “Growing up I liked the financial side of business,” he says. “I found it fun and enjoyable.” But his auditor job at a large accounting firm, he decided, wasn’t for him, so he took night classes at Loyola Law School. By this time he had met and married his wife Judy, an elementary school teacher, and was raising a family (sons Steve and Mark and daughter Kelly) at St. Anastasia in Westchester.
“Judy was unbelievable,” Steve says of his wife. “She understood what I was doing — working 40 to 50 hours a week in the daytime, law school at night, study on the weekends — and did so much to make our family strong.”
Eventually, Steve left the accounting world to join McCulloch Corp. as general counsel. When Black & Decker bought McCulloch, Steve became the division’s chief financial officer, and in 1982 moved to Baltimore to become corporate treasurer, and later Black & Decker’s CFO.
Living in Baltimore also got Steve involved with Catholic Charities, serving on its board of directors and in its food kitchens. “It’s a great organization,” he says, “and I was able to continue that association when I served on their development committee in Hartford.”
His move to Hartford came after he was recruited by the CEO of United Technologies (a Dow Jones’ 30 industrial). After five years as CFO, he was asked to run a subsidiary, Otis Elevators — “the best job I ever had,” he smiles, proud of its success during and after his tenure as president.
But he is even prouder of his involvement with Inroads, an organization that introduces inner-city kids to corporate America. Steve led classes for college kids “to understand how corporate America works. You help them learn how to interview, how to dress, and find them summer employment. It was great to be involved outside of the workplace, to support the community, and to help kids who need and appreciate it.”
After serving as vice-chair of United Technologies’ board, and on the boards of Lowe’s, Liberty Mutual and others, Steve was invited to serve on LMU’s Board of Regents and he and Judy returned to Los Angeles, attending Mass at Sacred Heart Chapel. Although Judy died in 2008, LMU remains Steve’s parish — “a wonderful, caring community,” he says.
Steve served several years on both LMU’s Board of Regents and Board of Trustees. He now serves on the boards of the Catholic Education Foundation and Mount St. Mary’s College. “Education is a big deal in our family,” he says, having sponsored scholarships at LMU, Loyola High School, and Mount St. Mary’s College. Steve is delighted that his children — now enjoying successful careers and raising families of their own — participate in the Page Family Foundation. “We support education since we believe it makes such a positive difference in the world.”
Each year, the Page family assembles at Christmastime to engage in a very special ritual. “Before the first present is exchanged,” says Steve, “we go around the room and ask each other, ‘What did you do for others this past year? What or who did you give to, and why?’”
He smiles. “It really goes back to being men, and women, for others. The Jesuits taught us how to serve. And that’s how we have led our lives.”