BIO Index

Jack Siebert


Thinking that I was the only transplanted Sarasota Sailor, I wasn't sure that I would do a biography; however after reading several other bios of transplants, I thought why not?

My step-father retired in the fall of 1959 and announced that we were moving to Florida - with me a junior in high school and my brother Len a senior, you can imagine that we were not thrilled with the prospect. But October came and we were on our way to our new home in Sarasota. Problem was that the new home had not been built yet and we had to put up in a small motel closer to downtown. Eventually the home on Bougainvillea St. between Webber and Siesta Drive was completed and we moved in, minus brother Len. He was able to convince our parents to allow him to return to Kenosha, WI. to finish his last year of high school living with family friends. And being the youngest of four brothers, this gave me my own bedroom for the first time in my life - ah, luxury!

I entered SHS with more than a small amount of trepidation, not knowing a soul nor what would await me in classes. However, I soon realized that there was more than a small amount of "southern" hospitality and I was welcomed into my new world with open arms. Luckily I was in a few clubs and groups (Key Club, Choir, Jr. HIst. Society, etc.) and this helped ease me into the social scene. I was also fortunate to make several good friends, including some who introduced me to water-skiing and I felt like I was in paradise when out on Sarasota Bay.

Upon graduation in 1961, I returned to Wisconsin to join my three brothers where we were all enrolled at Marquette University. While only my eldest brother graduated from Marquette, we all put in varying periods of time there. The following year, my parents moved back to Kenosha and I joined them there, entering the UW Extension for one year of studies, following that in 1963 with my move to Madison where I continued my studies, graduating in 1966 with a major in Latin American Studies. I took one semester off in 1964 to travel to Europe and that sealed my fate for the rest of my life - travel became my drug of choice.

Upon graduation in 1966, I wasn't quite sure what to do with this interesting major, not feeling really prepared for any particular career. I decided to try education and accepted a job as a 5th grade teacher in Zion, IL., just across the state line from my hometown of Kenosha. However, within three months, I received a call from Peace Corps telling me that the program I was interested in had just opened up, so off I went to Lubbock, TX. (Texas Tech) for two months of training prior to shipping off to Bogotá, Colombia to work in their educational television station. While the work was interesting and my colleagues more than welcoming, a variety of factors led me to resign from Peace Corps after about eight months service, returning to Wisconsin. My step-father had died, so I moved in with my Mom and began teaching Adult Basic Education to seasonal migrant workers.

This began my true career in education and after two years of ABE/ESL teaching in Whitewater and Kenosha, I moved back to Madison where I began a 30-year career with the Madison Public Schools, about half of it in the classroom teaching ESL and half working as a Program Support Teacher - planning and implementing inservice sessions, testing of all new students, meeting with ethnic community groups on cultural issues, advocating for refugee students, etc. It was in fact a dream job which I enjoyed thoroughly. However, after 30 years in the system and with both of my children out of high school, the warmer weather of northern California beckoned me. Having several friends as well as one of my brothers precede me to the San Francisco Bay Area helped make the move an easy one and in 1998 it became permanent.

I thought I had retired, but as with most of us, I found that I was not about to sit around twiddling my thumbs. So, initially I found a part time job back in adult education as well as doing volunteer work in the pediatric unit at UCSF Hospital. However, I decided that retirement indeed should be fun, so I answered an ad on the internet for an airline job and in August of 1999, I was hired by Northwest Airlines to work at SFO as a customer service agent. Pay? Minimal. Travel benefits? Incredible. In the two years I was with NWA, I traveled to Asia three times, Europe once, and all over the USA and Canada - free and first class. I wasn't a happy camper when I was laid off after 9/11, but I always had education to fall back on.

So, in 2002, I was hired at a community college to teach ESL and have been there ever since, taking semesters off periodically to continue my travels. My travels have taken me back to Asia several times (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Macao, etc.), Europe several more times (all of western Europe along with several eastern countries), to Israel to live and work on a kibbutz for four months and back to Wisconsin, Chicago and other parts to visit my two children (oh, did I forget to mention that I am the proud father of two wonderful children, both practicing lawyers in Chicago and San Antonio, TX?). And so as to not get bored, I do volunteer work, using the Spanish skills I have honed over the years to serve as an interpreter for individuals and families from various Latin American countries who are seeking asylum in the US based on domestic violence, political and LGBT issues. I also do paper translations of documents of various kinds for these clients.

I presently reside in a lovely condo in San Mateo, CA which is about 20 miles south of San Francisco. We do not have any kind of extreme weather here and I absolutely love it. I'm about to begin my spring/summer travels with trips back to Chicago (my son and grandson), San Antonio (my daughter) and Wisconsin (friends). I regret that I won't be able to make the upcoming reunion in Sarasota, but I send my warm regards to one and all and hope that you have a terrific weekend.

Thanks to Niki for prodding me to write this biography - I have enjoyed reading the many submitted to date.

Jack Siebert