Obituary of Thomas Anthony Siefkes
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Thomas Anthony Siefkes on December 29th, 2019.
Tom was born on March 27, 1941 to Carl T. Siefkes and Regina Siefkes (LaPlavy) in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Tom grew up in care of his loving parents on Brady Street in Milwaukee in a close working-class neighborhood until 1950, when his parents were given a home by a family friend (Al Hahn) owner of the Silver Spring House and Restaurant in North Milwaukee (now Glendale) near Kletzsch Park and the Milwaukee River. The home was physically moved to 1717 Green Tree Avenue where the Siefkes family continued to flourish, and where Tom spent his formative teenage years and early 20s with his parents, brother and sister.
Tom excelled at St. Nicholas Catholic School before attending Nicolet High School in Glendale Wisconsin from 1955-59. Tom was an excellent athlete playing Football, Basketball and Baseball and lettering as a freshman in high school. He could also ice skate with the best of them. Tom ran with a close group of friends who he remained in contact with throughout his life.
Tom attended College at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee where he played football and received a business degree with a minor in history. Tom paid for school by working at his Father’s Gas Station, “Carl’s Shorewood Service”, in the North Milwaukee Shorewood neighborhood, and also working many construction jobs. Tom also occasionally tended bar at the Echo Bowling Alley on Port Washington Road on very rare occasions when he and his friends were not patronizing the bar themselves. It was there that Tom received an offer from a Schlitz sales executive Chet to hang beer signs and do beer industry marketing and point of sale work at local Milwaukee bars. Tom was excited about the opportunity but had been drafted into the US Army in 1961 and had to decline. Chet told him, “call me when active service is over”.
Tom did basic training at Fort Devens Massachusetts. He traveled there from Milwaukee with his close friends Bill Petrie and Dick Dornfelt in his 1956 Chevy in an epic 4 day trip that is still being referenced to by many in both midwestern and eastern states. Tom was stationed at Fort Devens for the period of his active duty as a member of the Army Security Agency Regiment.
After active duty Tom spent years in the reserves attaining the high rank of “Corporal”. Of his time in the service, the only thing he ever mentioned to his family is that his base (Fort Devens) was where they filmed the movie Goldfinger and he was there during the filming. As an avid movie watcher, he was proud of this fact. Upon release from Active Duty, Tom started with Schlitz Brewing Company in 1964, in a Marketing and Point of Sale position just as his Echo Bowl patron Chet had promised.
Tom met the love of his life (Valerie Guzzetta) and was married in 1968 in Oconomowoc Wisconsin. Tom enjoyed spending time at Okauchee lake with his wife Val, Mother and Father In law (Trudy and Walter) and many friends who would converge on the lake for weekend long parties. The love and affection that Tom shared with his in laws is something that he would later pass on to his own daughter in laws’ in heaping proportion. Tom and Val had two children (Jon in 1972 and David in 1975), and they made their home in Cedarburg Wisconsin on Timbercrest Court where many life-long friends were made. Although Tom and Val separated in 1984, they remained good friends and companions throughout their lives. Tom left Schlitz in the early 1980s and went to work for Coors Brewing Company in Golden Colorado. Tom moved west to the Denver/Golden area where he and his family enjoyed many years of skiing, fishing and mountain adventure. Tom also enjoyed hunting with friends and frequent roadtrips throughout his life.
As mentioned previously, Tom was an avid movie watcher and his favorites were John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies. Moving west allowed Tom and his Family to experience some of the places that Tom had only seen in the movies, and the excitement never disappointed. Tom watched the same westerns over and over (hundreds of times), and never grew tired of them. In his life, he loved both Wisconsin and the west.
After his time with Coors ended in 1990, Tom was in private business for a couple years, but then moved to Seattle Washington and took a role with Barton Beers (Constellation Brands), as a Northwest Division manager. Tom made many friends in the Seattle area and had many adventures that only the Northwest could provide. He left Seattle in 1999 and moved to San Francisco to work with Constellation Brands in the “Love Division”. Tom found new colleagues who were often entertained by his “old beer guy” stories and many life adventures. Adventures that continued with his new California friends in wine country and other places. Tom (now in his 60s) found joy and a refreshed career in San Francisco. His positive outlook and “young at heart demeanor” fit well with the young, smart dynamic team at Constellation and made it hard for him to retire. A retirement he delayed several times because he was having so much fun. But retire Tom did in 2006, and shortly thereafter he moved back to his family in Colorado.
In Tom’s retirement, he enjoyed many happy years spending time with his grandchildren, and he remained very close with his brother Jerry and sister Carla as he had throughout his life. Tom having enjoyed lots of travel, events and parties throughout his life preferred a quiet retirement. He did not seek excitement, or care for material things other than a comfortable chair –“and his family there”. He helped teach his grandchildren how to swim and spent tremendous amounts of quality time with them. He rebuilt his son Jon’s farmhouse with him. He also spent lots of time reading, being a very quiet polite neighbor and of course watching his Packers, Wisconsin Badgers, Golf and just about every other sporting event ever televised. -With classic western movies thrown in daily and an immaculate house and lawn. Tom enjoyed his manhattans (with no bitters added) each evening and he liked Jeopardy and any historical documentary. He loved ice cream drumsticks, and often “bought them” for the grandchildren.
Tom often expressed his joy by bursting out into song and performing advertisement jingles he remembered from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. He felt the need to show off his supreme memory and singing capability with the hundreds of jingles he knew to his ex-wife Valerie, his sons/daughters – in law, and grandchildren on a daily/weekly basis. Tom was not shy in performing his songs at any venue despite circumstance or time of day.
On a final note, Tom (Dad) was a very happy and positive person. The tremendous love he received from his wonderful parents (Carl and Rae) was passed along to his children and grandchildren. It was overflowing from him. He was always there for his family and he would have not wanted too much grief or “to do” regarding his passing. Tom never did disparage about much, and he did not dwell on the past. In addition, Tom was not at all a sentimental man about possessions, and he did not care about acquiring stuff. He often said, “I could buy more, but I do not need it and do not want it”. Tom always felt he had everything he needed in his close friends and family. Tom was a wonderful loving father, grandfather, son, brother and companion. Although Tom was not blessed with an overabundance of patience, he was blessed with excessive amounts of generosity, kindness and caring for his friends, family and fellow man. He will be tearfully missed.
Tom is survived his Ex-Wife Valerie Guzzetta whom he was close companions with. His son Jonathan 47 (wife Barb), with children Thomas 13 and James 10 of Boulder Colorado. His son David 44 (wife Lindsay), with children Sadie 17, Sawyer 14, and Ryder 12 of Boulder Wyoming. His Brother Gerald Siefkes and Sister in Law Pat Siefkes of Thiensville Wisconsin and their children Penny and Andrew. His Sister Carla Siefkes of Milwaukee Wisconsin. Also many ex in laws and family members. Tom Siefkes will be interred at Saint Francis Borgia Catholic Cemetery in Cedarburg Wisconsin Summer of 2020 date to be announced.
• Tom’s favorite saying: “Time waits for no man”
• Tom’s favorite songs: Ed Sheeran - Perfect Symphony (with Andrea Bocelli), Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman, - Time to Say Goodbye, 3 Tenors – O Sole Mio, Pavarotti – Nessun dorma
• Tom Siefkes Manhattan: Fill Tumbler with Ice. Add Canadian whiskey. Splash of Sweet Vermouth. Mix. Relax.