In the early evening of Thursday, August 4th, 2022, Jack Donald Siebert succumbed to a heart attack and left this earth way too soon. Jack was doing what he genuinely loved to do: supporting a family member's band at an outdoor jazz concert, while making friends with complete strangers. Jack was surrounded by good samaritan bystanders with medical and emergency training, but they were unable to resuscitate him. In his final moments there were people caring for him in the exact manner as he would've done for anyone else.
Born and raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with his three brothers Charles, Leonard, and Ronald, by their doting mother Hannah, he was eternally proud of his hometown. Every trip back to the midwest always included a visit to Kenosha and some of his favorite memories from his boyhood schools to his favorite burger place, The Spot, to visiting old friends from school/childhood. Even though he had been in California the last 24+ years of his life, he was a Cheesehead until the end.
Jack was the epitome of what we all want in a spouse, father, grandfather, son, friend, or teacher. He was kind, caring, empathetic, sincere, genuine, honest, loving, and above all else, one of a kind. When he met someone he took the time to learn everything about them and it may have seemed like an interrogation, when in reality, it was just Jack being Jack. Very often, these strangers became friends. He wanted to know all about someone and relate to them however possible. To Jack, friends were meant to be lifelong and he always made every effort to see them wherever he traveled. He was the person who always remembered a birthday, wedding, graduation, and so many other important events. He didn’t just remember them, he sent heartfelt cards that people never wanted to recycle. In fact, I bet many of his family and friends have stacks of cards from over the years that they have wanted to hang onto as mementos, especially now.
A book would need to be written about Jack’s interests to do them justice, but in short he loved the cinema, attending at least once a week. From dramas to foreign cinema to the best toe tapping musicals, he took so much joy from his escape into film. Of course, he hosted Oscar dinners for years and loved to challenge others in a trivia contest, especially Jeopardy almost every day of the week and Trivial Pursuit with his kids almost every week of their childhoods. Beyond the cinema he was a student of the world and loved learning about history, culture, languages (always one to throw in whatever phrases he knew in another language when encountering someone from a different culture in order to make them feel at ease), and geography. The theater and opera were common sources of enjoyment for Jack and he loved to tell the story about how he saw Sandy Duncan in Peter Pan flying over his head on Broadway. Jack loved to travel, and he loved people. His travels took him to over 40 countries and he raised his kids by stressing the importance of learning about others by truly getting to know them, so travel was integral to their upbringing. Jack loved to enjoy life and it was something he was an expert at.
A lifelong English as a Second Language teacher, Jack taught in the Madison, Wisconsin public schools for over 25 years, a few years post retirement at Canada College in Redwood City, California, and countless years spent teaching family and friends English. Retirement from teaching didn’t mean that Jack took time off from still helping people. He spent countless hours volunteering at - San Francisco International Airport at the Information Desk helping answer numerous questions from lost travelers; translating for LGBTQ+ Spanish speaking clients of various non-profit legal organizations as they petitioned for asylum in this nation; providing information to visitors at the Chinese Historical Society of America; and a plethora of other valuable volunteer jobs that he took just as seriously as his teaching career.
Jack was the number one cheerleader for his family. Any phone-call or holiday letter was sure to include updates about what his children and grandchildren were up to. To some it may seem like he was boasting, but he was just so genuinely happy about what his family was doing that he had to share it with everyone he met. For Jack, family was everything, he would go to all ends of the world to make them happy and he leaves behind a legacy that will live on in all the lives he touched.
The loss of Jack to his family and friends leaves a huge void that will never be filled. Yet, the ever lasting memories that he left will help ease some of that pain.
Jack is survived by his husband, Nato Fortes, his children Andrea Siebert Morello and Aarón Siebert-Llera, his son in law Tom Morello, his daughter in law Nevien Shaabneh, his grandchildren Ibraheem Siebert and Lorenzo Morello, his step grandchildren Hatim Ali, Sabrin Ali, and Shadin Amrah, his ex-wife Aracely Llera, his brothers Ron Siebert and Len Siebert, and countless friends from around the world. Jack’s legacy lives on in his wonderful children and grandchildren, who are all following in his footsteps by trying to make the world a better place, one day at a time.
The Jack D. Siebert Memorial Future Educators Scholarship has been established to honor Jack's legacy to support future teachers from a range of backgrounds who demonstrate financial need. Priority will be given primarily, but not exclusively, to those from the LBGTQIA community and underrepresented ethnic groups. The scholarship fund will be managed by the Madison Community Foundation (MCF), please see the following link (https://www.madisongives.org/siebert) for more information and to contribute.
In lieu of flowers, donations are welcome to the above scholarship or the following non-profit organizations in Jack's name, per his request: (1) Doctors Without Borders; (2) St. Anthony Foundation - San Francisco; or (3) Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley.
Jack's kindness and enthusiasm for life were two of the many factors that made him one of the most likable people I've ever known. Seeing him again was one of the reasons that I looked forward to our reunions. His presence was always a welcome addition to our gathering, News of Jack's passing was a blow and I will miss him. My deepest condolences go out to his family, his partner, and his many friends.
I first learned of Jack's passing early Friday morning. It was a shock! My sister Ellen, who has been reunited with Len Siebert for a number of years now, sent me a text letting me know that Len had just recieved this information. Later on Ellen forwarded a text that Len had recieved from Chris Siebert, Charles' son, relating the entire events of that Thursday night - a very heart felt note.. I sent all the information I had to Suzette, Jack was attending Chris's band concert when he had the apparent heart attack. Jack and I along with Bill Whyte were very close in high school. Once Ellen reunited with Len, Jack always kidded that we were now related. I don't think that I can embellish on all the heart felt comments that my classmates have already presented, with many more to come, I am sure.. My condolences to his partner, family and friends. RIP, my friend.
Carol Kramer (Miller)
At the last reunion Jack and I rode the elevator down to the reunion. He asked if we were on the right elevator. I told him it was the one they told me to take. Now there will never be another elevator ride. He was a good person and will be missed by many. The 80th birthday will be short one. Rest in peace.
I'm so sorry to hear about Jack. A great guy who will be sorely missed. Condolenses to his family. Rest in peace classmate.
While I got to know Jack in high school, we had frequent encounters while he was a social worker for the Madison Pulbic Schools. We would meet at professional meetings and on two different occassions people tried to introduce me to Jack. After the second time Jack said, "if this happens again, let's just pretend we have never met" I said, "my line will be that I heard a lot about you" and he said I will say, "well I hope it was good." Jack was a passionate guy who had empathy for many people. Rest in Peace.
Patricia Malko (Aiello)
I was so shocked to hear of Jack's passing. I have such fond memories of Jack especially through junior high. He was the nicest guy and always so so kind. He will be greatly missed.
My condolences to Jack's family.
Sending love and light to the family of Jack Siebert. I remember him as a friendly, kind boy from elementary school.
Marilyn Copen (Birky)
Rest In Peace
Suzette Arnoldini (Englund)
It has been a little while now since Jack has passed and I have been thinking about what to say about such a special and unique and fine man that has not already been said by so many. I remember jack first from the days of taking the Red Line bus to Lincoln Junior High. Jack lived out on French Drive which at the time I believe was county or recently purchased by the city. Anyway, we were sort of a sub culture..."bus people." At lincoln (and forever after) Jack and Bernie Covelli were very good friends, and also friends of Jody Borkenhagen who was a good friend to me and I got to know Jack best through her. Jack moved away before finishing high school at bradford, but as years went by we found him and sent him an invitation to a class reunion (maybe the 40th but I can't exactly remember) and he came! How wonderful to see him and from that time on he embraced the class so much. He renewed old friendships and made tons more and never missed a class gathering. Even when he came to visit his family in Chicago he would meet wiith classmates and make trips to Kenosha to see whoever was avilable for lunch or dinner or a visit. He just seemed to enjoy everyone and enhaced every gathering he attended with his kindness, generosity, adventures, humor, interest, and honestly there was so much love in that mans heart. When Buzz was sick, Jack and Nato were incredibly kind and caring and gave Buzz some really joyful moments and I am ever grateful for that. I am so happy to have known jack and will never forget him. He lived his life to the fullest for sure but there was so much energy and future plans left in him and sadly his life was cut too shortl Thank you for being a part of our wonderful class Jack, and for caring so much about each one of your 1961 classmates You will be missed.
Bernard CovelliWhat a wonderful obituary dealing with one of my closest grade school, jr high school as well as high school in addition to University of Wisconsin friends. Even throughout our adult lives our friendship endured. Jack and I had a special bonded friendship that wasn't based on a daily contract but whenever we picked it up it was solid, caring and loving. Our families were in touch, whenever we were together in Kenosha especially he and my mother were bonded. She felt Jack was "a good boy".....yes he was in her eyes. His son Aaron and grandson attended family birthday parties in town. Along with his partner Nato, they were family.
Jack's death came as a total shock as we all experienced, hearing the news. I am the one with the terminal disese, not Jack. However we answer to a Higher Power. I am grateful for our memories and friendship we made. Life lessons and fun times we shared have been made, cherished. Rest in peace knowing that we will meet once more. Love you always.