You are here

Libby E. Siegel '51

Libby E. Siegel, 88, a lifelong resident of Minneapolis, died peacefully at home on June 19, 2017. Libby was born January 4,1929, the oldest of three children, in Minneapolis, the daughter of Russian immigrant, Isadore Epstein, and Finnish Iron Ranger, Helmi Apuli Epstein.

She graduated from Washburn High School in 1946 and attended Antioch College, where she met Richard Siegel ’47 of Mount Vernon, NY during her first month on campus. They were married on March 23,1949 and briefly lived in Chicago before settling in Minneapolis.

Libby taught at Burroughs School and earned a Master of Education degree at the University of Minnesota before starting a family and raising four children. When the last of her children entered kindergarten in 1968, Libby returned to work teaching second grade at Northrop Collegiate School, and in the fall of 1974, became lower school principal of the newly co-educational Blake School.

Libby's segue into school administration drew on her feminism and lifelong embodiment of Sisu, a Finnish word meaning courage, determination, perseverance, and tenacity. With courage, she helped lead Blake through its process of becoming co-ed, a role she reluctantly left when her principles collided with the school's practices.

A lifelong learner and doer, Libby then held a variety of volunteer and paid positions using her skills as a feminist, educator, and civic activist. With perseverance, she ran the legal resource office at Chrysalis, A Center for Women (now the Harriet Tubman Chrysalis Center) and co-founded M.Y. Options, a support and education group for middle-aged women.

With tenacity, at age 60, she spent a semester in the University of Minnesota Studies in International Development program living in Nairobi, studying Swahili and working for the National Council of Churches of Kenya.

Six years later, with determination, Libby boarded "The Peace Train," traveling across Eastern Europe and Asia to the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing. Libby's training as a counselor in the postgraduate program in Bowen Family Systems Theory in Washington D.C. supported her private counseling practice, which she sustained through her mid-eighties.

Until her husband's death in 2010, Libby and Dick shared a vibrant, loving 60-year partnership, enjoying travel, Shakespeare studies, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concerts, and relishing time at their beloved lake cabin with their family and wide circle of friends.

Libby continued to lead her family with immense wisdom, patience and love, forming profound relationships with each of her grandchildren, offering needed advice and the right combination of honesty and generosity.

Libby is survived by her daughters, Ellie T. Siegel, (William H. Warren), Janet Ha, (San), Margie Siegel, (Scott Horne), and her son, William A. Siegel; her eight grandchildren, Jonah, Sophie, Vivian, David, Phoebe, Sam, Louie, and Johanna; and her brother, Arnold, of St. Paul. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dick; infant son, David; parents, Isadore and Helmi, and sister, Sara Dobberteen.

Libby's family and friends gathered to celebrate her life on June 23 at Temple Israel in Minneapolis, with a luncheon following the service. Memorial gifts may be made to Planned Parenthood, College Possible Minnesota, or an organization of your choice.