Siebert remembered as 'a pillar of the community'December 18, 2020
By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
JASPER — When Jim Siebert attended his father’s funeral Mass, he heard Father Donald Ackerman, a longtime friend of the family, say something that would etch into his mind forever:
If Bob Siebert doesn’t go to Heaven, then the rest of us don’t stand a chance.
It’s hard to summarize a person like Bob, who played so many roles and lived his 93 years of life giving every ounce of himself to the Jasper community. Jim thought Father Ackerman’s line did a pretty good job.
Throughout the 68 years Jim got to spend with his father, he watched him grow as a tenacious businessman, win many awards and be praised by countless people. But none of that ever really mattered to Bob. He just wanted to give to his community as much as it had given to him.
“Being from a small town, it’s easy to be a good person because everybody knows everything about everybody,” Jim said. “But my dad felt it was important to be a good person, not because people would see you, but for all of the right reasons.”
Bob Siebert was born and raised in Jasper and owned Siebert’s clothing store until he retired in 1997 and his sons took over. He was a recipient of the Jasper Chamber of Commerce’s President’s Community Excellence Award, an honor given to someone who goes above and beyond in giving their time and energy to the community.
He was a Jasper Wildcat and, as a graduate of Indiana University, was a massive fan. He was a kind soul with a good sense of humor and a loving husband and father, Jim said.
He died at home, surrounded by his family, on Dec. 10.
Bob was well-known in Jasper partly due to the myriad committees and volunteer opportunities he joined. But beyond his involvement in the community, people simply wanted to know him because of who he was as a person.
“You would meet him, and then the next minute you were a friend,” Jim said. “He didn’t think he was special or better than anybody else.”
As the director of the Jasper Chamber of Commerce, Nancy Eckerle saw how Bob worked as a businessman. Anyone who knew him could attest that he thought all fairly successful business owners should give back to the communities that helped make them successful.
“Bob was just what you would call a pillar of the community,” Eckerle said. “When you say his name, I think you think of community service, giving back to the community and being part of the community.”
Bob cared deeply for many in his community, Eckerle said. But above all, he cared for his seven children and especially for his wife, Josie.
“He and his wife, they were just the ideal couple,” Eckerle said. “Everybody wanted to be like Bob and Josie just because of the love you could see between the two of them.”
As owner of a now nearly century-old business in town, Bob watched the downtown square blossom over the years. He wanted the entire town to thrive, not just his own store.
Decades ago, Bob and Bernie Vogel, a longtime friend and fellow business owner, raised money to put plants around the courthouse. Bob “could see what was coming” in terms of the downtown area’s development, Vogel said, and the two wanted to make the square feel more like home.
Bob never thought he needed to step on other businesses to be successful, either. In fact, he wanted everyone to work together.
Maureen Braun, owner of Finishing Touches in Jasper, remembers when the Sieberts would invite all the downtown merchants to their family cabin at Buck Shoals to have a fish fry while they brainstormed together.
“He was the epitome of working hard but also knowing how to have fun,” Braun said.
One time, the Sieberts housed a pig outside their store so visitors could walk by and participate in a name-the-pig contest. Then one day, the pig got loose, and Braun remembers watching the Sieberts chase the pig down. Little things like that made Bob just as unforgettable as the big stuff.
During his free time, Bob and Josie would attend many IU football and basketball games. They traveled as far as Hawaii to watch the Hoosiers play. Even their home has an IU-themed bathroom, covered in memorabilia and notes from coaches.
Once the funeral Mass concluded, Josie led the procession down the aisle, Jim said. When she got to the end and sat in her wheelchair, the organist began to play the IU fight song. Josie teared up and clapped along.
Dad would have liked that, Jim thinks. He imagined him smiling down from Heaven.
Jim hopes he and his family will continue to do him proud, so they can always feel like that.
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