James W. Sieg
November 01, 1938 ~ January 12, 2021
Born in: Ventura, California
Resided in: Laguna Beach, California
James W. Sieg
November 1, 1938 – January 12, 2021
Jim Sieg, a 48-year resident of Laguna Beach, died peacefully at home on January 12. He was surrounded by his loving family. Jim had been in declining health for several years fighting a brave battle with Lewy Body dementia. He was 82. A multi-talented athlete, Marine Corps infantryman, award-winning teacher, life-long learner and accomplished scholar, talented photographer, and voracious traveler, Jim Sieg’s interests and pursuits were vast and far-ranging.
Jim was born in Ventura but grew up in San Diego, where he attended San Diego High School. A gifted athlete, Jim starred at end for his 1955 football team that went 12-0 and was designated national champions by the National Prep Poll and the National Sports News Service. After graduating from high school, Jim joined the Marine Corps, where he played football and proudly served for three years. After a short stint at the University of Miami where he went to play football, Jim returned to southern California and worked for First American Title Co.
In 1965, he met his future wife, Sandra Nishkian, and they were married on December 28, 1967. In 1972, Jim and Sandy moved to Laguna Beach, where they raised their four daughters (Tina, Stephanie, Gina, and Summer).
Jim received his B.A. in English at California State University, Long Beach in 1968. He taught English at Katella High School and Pioneer High School, but most of his career was spent at Katella, where he also served as faculty advisor to the yearbook. While teaching at Katella, Jim received his master’s degree in English Literature from UCI in 1991. In 2004, at age 66, he was awarded his PhD from the Department of Teaching and Learning at the Steinhardt School of Education at NYU. Jim’s dissertation focused on how literature can serve as a conduit for connecting with the Mexican-American gang culture. After completing his doctorate, Jim taught briefly at Whittier College and California State University, Fullerton. As a teacher, he touched countless students’ lives with his enthusiasm and intellect. He was a true mentor to young people, encouraging them to find their passion and pursue it. During his extensive teaching career, Jim was the recipient of over 25 teaching awards and honors.
Jim and Sandy were avid travelers, and they spent considerable time exploring Mexico and traveling throughout Europe. While on a sabbatical in 1985-86, they lived in Florence, Italy, where Jim taught English literature at the International School.
Jim also studied photography at the Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende. An accomplished photographer, Jim displayed his photographs at the Festival of Arts and in several museum exhibitions. His work was also published in numerous magazines and newspapers.
Jim lived his life with grace and humility. Hetreated all people equally. He never placed himself above others. His vivacity and spirit were infectious, and his intellect, quick wit, compassion for his fellow man, and love for his family are his legacy. Jim is survived by his wife of 53 years, Sandra, and their four daughters and sons-in-law: Christine and Mark Schuppert of San Diego; Stephanie McMahon of Dana Point; Gina and Chris Jones of Mission Viejo; and Summer and King Rice of West Branch, New Jersey. Jim leaves behind nine devoted grandchildren: Corbin, Devon, and Kelsey Schuppert; Cameron and Claire McMahon; Dylan and Henry Jones; and Alexander and Julian Rice.
Because of the COVID pandemic, there will be no public service.
Donations in memory of James W. Sieg may be made to either the Brain Support Network (P.O. Box 7264, Menlo Park, CA 94026-7264) or Moon Angels (271 Auburn Street, Salinas, CA 93901). The Moon Angels charity was founded by Sandra Sieg 19 years ago and named by Jim.