Cover photo for The Rev Graeme Wilson Sieber's Obituary
The Rev Graeme Wilson Sieber Profile Photo
1935 The Rev 2015

The Rev Graeme Wilson Sieber

June 19, 1935 — December 13, 2015

Graeme Sieber, 80, of Maryville, TN beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and uncle; retired Presbyterian (U.S.A.) pastor died December 13, 2015 with Alzheimer's. Born in Nova Scotia, raised in Mifflintown and Blairs Mills, Pennsylvania, Graeme graduated from high school in Orbisonia, PA, Maryville College, (BA, History), and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (MDiv). After a cardiac arrest in 1995 while lobbying members of Congress on behalf of troubled adolescents, Graeme completed a second Master's degree through Nova University (MS, Youth-care Administration). He devoted his life in service to helping othershis family, the Church, those in need anywhere. Even as a patient in a memory care unit, he ministered to both his fellow residents and the professional staff listening to their concerns, trying to comfort them, and praying with them. Graeme was ordained to the ministry by Huntington Presbytery. His pastorates included Moshannon Valley Larger Parish churches in Osceola Mills, Winburne, and Kylertown, PA, 1960-66; East Liberty Presbyterian Church, Vanderbilt, PA, 1966-75; Round Hill Presbyterian Church, 1975-83; and Graystone Presbyterian Church, Knoxville, TN, 1983-89. From 1989-1997, he served as Executive Director of Bachman Memorial Home, a Presbyterian treatment center for troubled adolescents in Cleveland, TN. He served as interim pastor of Farner Presbyterian Church 1998-2000, and First Presbyterian Church of Oak Ridge 2000-2002, both in Tennessee. He served as Moderator of Redstone Presbytery in 1973-74, and chaired the Committee on Ministry in 1974-75. In Pittsburgh Presbytery, he served on the Committee on Ministry 1980-83, and was Senior Vice-Moderator in 1981. He was a member of the Permanent Judicial Commission for the Synod of the South/Synod of Living Waters, 1984-87. He served East Tennessee Presbytery as moderator in 1989, on the Personnel Committee 1991-95, and the Committee on Ministry 1990-96. He was elected to serve as a delegate to four General Assemblies. Throughout his ministry, he personified the meaning of the word pastor, gently shepherding those in his care. His pastoral leadership included developing lay caregivers for persons in the church and the community. He focused on reconciliation--establishing common ground and building trust so that persons in congregations, communities, and presbyteries could work together. He emphasized peacemaking to help people suffering because they had neither peace within themselves nor peace with those around them. He strove to help people make peace internally, locally, and globally. His ministry focused equally on social justice. Once known to some as "that hippie preacher," he was involved in civil rights issues, counseled Vietnam draftees, participated in Children's Defense Fund, Covenant Network and More Light conferences, and sought full ordination for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender members within the Presbyterian Church. Following retirement, he joined a mission trip to Nicaragua. Graeme also worked through interfaith and non-religious organizations. He was a founder, served on the Board of Directors (1969-1976), and was president of Concerned of Pennsylvania, Inc., which worked to create affordable housing. He also served on the Board of Directors for Alcoholism Services of Knoxville, Inc./Midway Rehabilitation Center (1985-1991), and Nancy's House, which served people living with AIDS, in Cleveland, TN (1998-2000). He led PFLAG Knoxville (2001-2004). In Cleveland, TN, he was active in Rotary International and hosted several exchange students, and in Maryville, he eagerly participated in Alzheimer's Tennessee fund-raising walks. An avid hiker in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, he also put in well over 1000 volunteer hours, educating visitors about the John Oliver cabin and families who lived in Cades Cove. Graeme treasured time outdoors camping, gardening, and being on his family's farm. He loved to travel, exploring state and national parks, and international destinations. He also took great pleasure in visiting family and friends, discussing current issues, baking bread, and reading. As it became clear to him that Alzheimer's would limit his memory, Graeme spent hours writing some of the stories of his life. He was devoted to his dear Millie, his children, and grandchildren, and loved to do things with and for them. He greatly enjoyed his wife's storytelling and encouraged her as her hobby became a part-time profession. He couldn't carry a tune, but he had a great appreciation for music, especially reveling in his son and son-in-law's chorus and in his grandson's gift for playing the saxophone. An early supporter of equality for women, he shared home responsibilities with his wife and encouraged his daughter and granddaughter as they grew in their careers. He enjoyed the public television British comedies. He lived with great integrity, and yet had a playful side and a great laugh. One friend said Graeme had a smile that went from one side of his face to the other and kept going. His compassion extended to everyone. Even when living in the memory care unit, he strove to show his love and concern for others, welcoming newcomers and visitors, appreciating caregivers, always striving to be helpful. His faith and confidence in God was clear, and he expressed this in ways that were welcoming and accepting, not judgmental. Preceded in death by his parents, Henry Wilson Sieber & Mary Louise Speer Sieber McClure, and step-father William A. McClure. Survived by wife of 56 years, Mildred Lineal Beard Sieber; their children Mary Elizabeth Sieber and Robert Graeme Sieber and his husband Lucio Maramba; grandchildren Katharine Elizabeth Sieber-Ford and Matthew Stephen Sieber-Ford; brothers and their wives: James Leo and Carole Sieber, Frank and Betty McClure, Al and Alice McClure, George and Barbara McClure; in-laws and "out-laws" of the Beard family Taylor and Kathryn Beard, Bob and Jean Beard, Marvin and Sue Carol Beard, Mary Elizabeth Heid; numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. The family thanks Blount Memorial Hospice and the Asbury Place staff for their devoted and loving care. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Maryville College, Advancement Office, (https://alumniandfriends.maryvillecollege.edu) 502 E Lamar Alexander Parkway, Maryville, TN 37804; Highland Presbyterian Church (http://highlandpresby.org), 721 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Maryville, TN 37804; Alzheimer's Tennessee (http://alztennessee.org), 5801 Kingston Pike; Knoxville, TN 37919; or PFLAG Maryville (http://pflagmaryville.org/donate). We will carry always in our hearts this strong, loving, gentle man who taught us to care for one another, to treasure the natural world and its creatures, and to serve wherever we may be. Service of Memory and Thanksgiving: Highland Presbyterian Church, Maryville, 1pm Saturday January 9, 2016.

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

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