American polo icon, Stephen A. “Steve” Orthwein, passed away peacefully in his sleep early Monday morning, March 12, 2018, surrounded by his family at his home in Wellington, Florida. A lifelong supporter of the United States Polo Association (USPA), Mr. Orthwein devoted much of his life to playing and contributing to the sport of polo.
Born October 28, 1945, to the renowned Busch brewing family, Mr. Orthwein spent his childhood in St. Louis, Missouri. Polo was a way of life for the Orthwein family and he, along with his brothers Dolph Jr. and Peter, learned to ride and swing a mallet at a young age from their father, Dolph Orthwein. Mr. Orthwein carried his love of the sport to Yale University, where he captained back-to-back national championships in 1967 and 1968 beating the Cornell team captained by his brother Peter. Also in 1967, he won his first major USPA tournament, the National Sixteen Goal, with a family team consisting of his father, twin brother Peter, and Bennie Gutierrez.
Throughout the next several decades he competed in many national and international events, and in 1969 he was selected to represent the United States in Pakistan and won the Pakistani Open. His numerous polo accomplishments include the Butler Handicap in 1975 and 1979 with Good Hope Farms and Oak Brook; the Monty Waterbury title in 1977 with Mallet Hill; and three Midwest Regional Classic wins in 1995, 1997 and 2001 with Huntleigh Oaks and Grant’s Farm Manor. Additionally, he won the National Copper Cup® title in 1997 with the St. Louis Polo Team. Mr. Orthwein achieved a 6-goal handicap, and at one time was the highest-rated amateur player in the United States. In 1988, the USPA honored him with the Hugo Dalmar Sportsmanship Award, which is presented to an individual who exemplifies characteristics of sportsmanship inherent to the sport of polo.
In the early 1970s Mr. Orthwein was elected Captain of the St. Louis Polo Club, a position he held for most of the next three decades and introduced many great players to the sport. As the St. Louis Polo Club Delegate, Mr. Orthwein became involved in the United States Polo Association and played an integral role in the development of the sport across the country. While working with the USPA, he served as Secretary from 1984 to 1988, President from 1988 to 1991, and Chairman from 1991 to 1995.
In 2001, Mr. Orthwein became Chairman of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, a position he held until 2010. He continued to serve on its board until his passing. One of his major accomplishments while serving as Chairman of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame was to bring the illustrious the Westchester Cup back into play on U.S. soil for the first time in 70 years, when it was played in February 2009 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Mr. Orthwein’s contributions to the sport are commemorated in not one, but two sports Hall of Fames. These include the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame in 2011 and the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. He also served as a United States Ambassador to the Federation of International Polo and served as the U.S. Chairman of the Rules Committee and Zone A Director until the time of his death.
The Orthwein family has been involved in the sport of polo for three generations, originally with the St Louis Polo Club and later with Gulfstream Polo Club in both the Delray and Lake Worth locations. After the closing of Gulfstream Polo Club, Mr. Orthwein had the vision to establish a new haven for polo enthusiasts to collaborate and share in their love of the sport. Port Mayaca Polo is the embodiment of this vision, and was officially founded in 2007 in Okeechobee, Florida, and best represents Mr. Orthwein’s hard work, values and love of the sport.
“All of us at the USPA, along with the world of polo, have lost one our most honored and respected friends,” said USPA CEO Robert Puetz. “Steve will be sorely missed, but his contributions to the sport of polo and his legacy and memory will stay with us forever. Our hearts go out to the entire Orthwein family.”
Steve Sr. is survived by Ginny, his loving wife of 42 years; his son Stephen Jr., his wife Margaret, and their daughter Hazel; his second son Robert and his wife Tiffany; and his youngest son Danny.
A celebration of Steve’s life will be hosted at the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame this Saturday, March 17, at 6:00pm ET. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Mr. Orthwein’s name to the following organizations, charities, or charity of your choice.
Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame
9011 Lake Worth Road
Lake Worth, FL 33467
Polo Players Support Group
11924 Forest Hill Blvd.
Wellington, FL 33414
Polo Training Foundation
70 Clinton Street
Tully, NY 13159
Ralph G. Dacey, Jr., MD Distinguished Professorship in Neurological Surgery
Washington University, David Blasingame
Campus Box 1101, One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
The Shepherd Center Foundation
SHARE Military Initiative, The Housing Program & Assisted Technology
2020 Peachtree Road NW
Atlanta, GA 30309