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Paul “Jack” Sieber, 95, of rural Albion passed away peacefully on Friday, August 23, 2019. He was born on the family farm in Jefferson Township on February 3, 1924 to Charles and Grace (Hardendorf) Sieber.
Jack and his brother and sister grew up during the Great Depression. By the time he was a junior in high school, he knew he wanted to be a naval aviator. He was a senior in high school when Pearl Harbor was bombed. After graduation from Albion High School, Jack chose to enlist in the US Navy as a naval aviation cadet. He completed his training at Corpus Christi where he was given his wings.
He began flying the amphibious seaplane PBY near San Diego, where he became certified to make ocean landings. While stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, in 1944, he and his flight crew conducted submarine patrols on nearby Midway Islands and Johnston Atoll. In April of 1945, Jack and his team reported to Iwo Jima for air-sea rescue duty. Their mission was to search for downed crewman of B-29 bombers returning from raids over Japan, who were forced to bail out over the Pacific. HIs plane and crew were credited with saving 33 lives. Near the end of the war, Jack assisted in searching for survivors of the torpedoed USS Indianapolis.
After the war, Jack married his sweetheart Ida Jean, in Angola, on November 27, 1945. He was then stationed at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida. During this time, Jack helped search for Flight 19, a group of 5 TBM bombers and a PBM search plane that mysteriously disappeared over the Bermuda Triangle during a routine training exercise. Although no trace of the flight was ever found, and many conspiracy theories exist about the disappearance, Jack always maintained that there was nothing strange about the Bermuda Triangle except bad weather.
In January of 1947, he was discharged from the Navy. He and Ida purchased 120 acres next door to the family farm. They began farming while Jack also worked at a local welding shop for $.80 an hour to support their growing family. In late 1951, Jack received a letter from the Navy that saying he could be recalled to duty. The Korean War was going on, but he told Ida not to worry, that it was just a form letter they send to everyone. A few days later, he was officially recalled. Jack was stationed in Pensacola, FL, and then Guantanamo, Cuba, where he served as a flight instructor. By the end of his naval career, Jack had attained the rank of First Lieutenant and logged over 4,000 flight hours.
In 1956, Jack and Ida returned to the family farm with their six children. They began a small dairy operation, with the entire family pitching in. Eventually they transitioned to row crop farming, where Jack was an early adopter of no-till practices. Jack continued farming until the age of 90.
Jack was a dedicated Rotarian for more than 50 years. He served as a past president, and was chosen as a Paul Harris fellow. He was one of ten charter members of the Sweet Church Community Organization, who were devoted to the restoration and preservation of the historic church. Jack’s deep ties to the church sprang from attending services there as a boy. and cherishing his great-grandfather’s role in the founding of the church in 1875.
Jack had a lifelong passion for gardening. He especially enjoyed growing tomatoes, sweet corn, and raspberries. Summers were often filled with taking his grandchildren berry-picking.
Jack continued his love of flying into his 70’s as a recreational pilot and often flew other local farmers to the Farm Progress Show in Illinois. He and Ida enjoyed traveling with their camper, particularly to Key West, Florida, where Jack was once stationed. They often took their children and grandchildren along, which instilled a deep love of the Florida Keys in their family.
Jack is survived by his loving wife of nearly 74 years, Ida; his children: Patricia Truex, of Baltimore, MD, Michael (Leslie) Sieber, of Downers Grove, IL, Margo (Bob) Gogel, of Toledo, OH, James Sieber, of Albion, John (Deb) Sieber, of Albion, Dr. Sharon Sieber, Pocatello, ID; and brother, Rod Sieber and his companion Betty Bower, of Albion. Also surviving are 9 grandchildren: Colin Sieber, Cindy (Shane) Bentz, Sasha (Jerry Michalkiewicz) Wright, Wesley (Kristen) Wright, Vanessa Wright, Megan (Christopher) Eash, Jonathan (Lindsay) Sieber, Jack(Julien) Sieber-Tessier, Jarrod (Jennifer Highland) Sieber; and 5 great grandchildren: Isaac Bentz, Allison Bentz, Evelyn Eash, Daniel Eash and Ruth Sieber
He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Lucille Weber.
Funeral Service is 11:00am Wednesday August 28, 2019 at Sweet Church, 3015 E. 415 N., Albion, with visitation from 10-11am. Visitation also from 4-8pm Tuesday August 27, 2019 at Sweet Church. He will be laid to rest with military honors at Sweet Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Jack's memory can be directed to Sweet Church Community Organization.
Harper Funeral Homes, Albion Chapel, 771 Trail Ridge Road is handling the funeral arrangements. To sign the online guestbook or leave a condolence, visit www.harperfuneralhomes.com