Shortly after I graduated from high school, someone informed my dad that the Siebert family was going to open a new clothing store in my home town of Tell City, and their inquiries around town led them to want to interview me for the assistant manager position. Mom did not want dad to tell me about this, because she knew I would jump at such a chance, and not go to college.
She was right – but dad told me anyway, believing it was my decision to make, not theirs.
I’ll always remember the day I met Bob Siebert, when I walked in to their family clothing store in Jasper and went to his office for the interview. I immediately liked the guy.
The family clothing store – known at the time as The Modern, was established in 1922. Bob was the second generation owner.
I was hired and immediately began work that summer (1977) in the store in Jasper to learn the business, and by September began preparing the new store for opening in Tell City. Not long after the store opened, the manager quit, and I was named manager shortly before I turned 19. Not many people would have given someone that young such responsibility or such an opportunity – but Bob Siebert did, and I am forever grateful.
Bob was a hard working business man, who treated his employees fairly and well. He had an incredible work ethic and a basic philosophy of life that is summed up: “Work hard. Play hard.” To say the least, he was a competitor!
Those five years I worked for Bob Siebert were some of the best years of my life. He built an incredible organization with a gifted group of people, and developed a very friendly work environment. Service and good quality merchandise was what we offered. He stood behind his product and his people.
A couple times a year, Bob would gather his employees to express his gratitude. I think we all looked forward to those parties!
Bob was a family man, and a man of faith. He was devoted to his wife Josie and they were quite a team. They raised a lovely family of seven children, many of whom worked in the business. His son Jim, and his wife Jane now operate the business, which will soon celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Bob had many admirable characteristics, but I always admired his goodness. He was a shrewd business man, but ethical, fair, and generous. I watched him agonize over difficult decisions, and rejoice in support of civic activities and helping his employees. He demanded performance, but was also quick to acknowledge his appreciation. He had a great sense of humor, quick with a smile and a memorable laughter that was contagious. He was a ‘spark’ in most settings of life.
At the age of 23, I told Bob I could no longer work for just a paycheck. I wanted to buy part of the business. I knew what his answer was before I asked. Still, he admired my spunk, and allowed me to stay on long enough to hire and train a new manager. Christmas Eve 1982 was my last day working for the Siebert family, but they have always remained close to my heart. The store in Tell City is no longer open, but I still like to stop by the store in Jasper when I am in the neighborhood, hoping to catch a family member for a visit.
I think the whole family thought I was joking the day I told them I was entering the seminary. While there has not been a lot of contact over the past nearly 40 years, we always looked forward to those rare, and joyful reunions.
It is hard to express my full admiration for this man, but could not let this day pass without giving him the credit that is due for the tremendous influence he had in my life. My family blessed me with a solid foundation. Bob and his family blessed me with a solid start in my adult life, and remained a blessing ever since. No one ever said my name quite like Bob, with that Dubois County, German voice. I’ll miss that …
To Josie and the family, you know I love you, and am praying for all of you.
To Bob – Rest In Peace, my friend.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon him. Amen.0