Tribute to Uncle Chris

by Ganteng Boy

I was supposed to call you that Tuesday April 12, 2016. In the past, you patiently listened to my concerns like a trained psychologist. And though not every problem can be fixed immediately, you helped me to formulate the next steps. I was in between jobs, and I was lost as to how I should approach the next step in my sales career. Oh how I now regret not calling you earlier, Uncle Chris.

My Uncle Chris was born in a small midwestern town in Iowa, on March 8, 1953.

Uncle Chris 3.jpg

Courtesy of the Siemann family.

Uncle Chris 4.jpg

Courtesy of the Siemann family.

Young Chris Siemann did not know this at the time, but God would allow for our paths to cross, at a later time in the future.

It was September 1991, and my Dad fell into a state of loneliness. My Dad was fortunate to receive a full scholarship, all expenses paid, from the University of Colorado; however, the rest of the family was not able to immigrate to the United States. My Mom, my brother and I were on the other side, in Jakarta, Indonesia.

From a distance, it was clear to Cecil Siemann (Chris’ father). There they were, Mr. Siemann and my Dad, queuing in line for bagles, one Sunday morning after mass.

“Do you know when the Winter Park ski resort opens?” asked Mr. Siemann.

Embarrassed to admit that he seldom gets the opportunity to explore Colorado, let alone skiing, my Dad responded, “I’m sorry, I’m a new comer to Colorado. I know nothing about skiing.”

One curious question led to another, and the rest was history. My Dad was no longer a stranger in this new land. Mr. Siemann introduced my Dad to rest of his friends and family; he invited our family to be a part of his extended family; he helped my family to be reunited as one, years later. Mr. Siemann was adamant about being a part of the history. We honour him as our Grandpa.

Uncle Chris 2

(from left to right): Uncle Chris, Aunt Sheila, Uncle Mark, Gregorious (my younger brother), Grandma Vera, Agnes (baby sister), Mom, Dad, Samantha, Me (young dude with glasses) and Grandpa Cecil

The apple does not fall far from the tree. Uncle Chris embodied many key attributes like his father. Growing up in Colorado, our family of four lived in a cramped two bedroom student housing apartment. We quickly outgrew this tiny space. Fortunately for us, there was an available townhouse right next to Grandpa.

First impressions are important. Overjoyed by the spaciousness of the townhouse, my brother and I did what kindergarteners do best – run, scream and yell at the top of our lungs. This type of behavior quickly raised the landlord’s anxiety. By now, you might know where this is going; the landlord needed a reference. Without hesitation, Uncle Chris volunteered to help.

“What do you know about this man? Because I am not sure about him. His kids seem to be a bit out of control” said the landlord.

“I know American kids; I have three kids myself. And American kids, by far, are more hyper than their kids. I know the parents. They have well disciplined kids” said Uncle Chris.

We lived in that townhouse, thanks to Uncle Chris’ recommendation.

Uncle Chris 1

Uncle Chris enjoying a few tunes from my tiny violin

Uncle Chris continued to play an active role in my young adult life. My Dad would have never respected sales as a career, had it not been for you, Uncle Chris. You convinced my Dad that going through a summer selling books, with Southwestern Great American, was an excellent character building experience.

Me in Front of Southwestern HQ

In memory of Uncle Chris. Southwestern Headquarters, Nasville, TN (April 2016).

Who knew that I would actually pursue a career in sales? I could not have done it without your support. I will always remember your lighthearted laughter, your genuine interest in my academic and career pursuits, and what a joy it was to be around you.


I hope heaven is everything that you imagined it to be.

6 Responses to “Tribute to Uncle Chris”

  1. Katie Mourning

    Oh, Tommy! What a beautiful tribute to Uncle Chris, Grandpa, and the journey you have been on. Make no mistake, WE were the lucky ones the day you joined our family. I’m so thrilled you did….
    I love you,


  2. Tom

    I’m impressed! I second all your admirations. Uncle Sam and my cousin Chris each left us with a legacy of fond memories.

    I too am a graduate of the summer education of travelling to new places selling dictionaries for Southwestern. I might add, as a senior teacher, that I am sure Chris shares my feelings, that the honor in a position, you mentioned, is created by each of us individually; thus grows our responsibility.


    • Kathi

      Thomas thank you for sharing your wonderful tribute to my loving cousin Chris. I agree with you as to the shared attributes of Uncle Sam and Chris. Both of them loving, kind, generous, caring and thoughtful men. They had big hearts and always wanted to help others in need. Those of us who were lucky enough to have been part of their lifes are blessed.They left their footprints in the sand . It was a pleasure to meet you and your father this past weekend.


  3. Paul Siemanm

    Hey Thomas I can vouge for Chris as he always thought huge of your brothers and sisters. Your Father and Mother.. as they say on the East Coast… forget about it they’re family. Love Uncle Paul aka UPS



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