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Councilman Siedelmann recalled for longtime dedication to Delavan

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ANN MARIE AMES
February 23, 2011
— It was late January, and Delavan City Councilman Ron Siedelmann was worried he was letting Delavan down.

He asked City Clerk Sue Kitzman to help him check his city e-mail. It was just weeks after Siedelmann, 67, was diagnosed with cancer and shortly before his first chemotherapy treatment.


He was at home, fretting about work.


"He said, 'I feel like I'm letting my city down,'" Kitzman said.


Siedelmann died Saturday at Lakeland Health Care Center, Elkhorn. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in early January.


Services are at 11 a.m. today at St. Andrews Catholic Church, Delavan.


Siedelmann served for more than 10 years on the city council and planned to run again in April.


City staff members were used to seeing him daily, Kitzman said.


"For many years, he showed up every day," Kitzman said. "He'd come in to check and see what's going on."


Siedelmann's devotion to Delavan extended beyond City Hall. He was a longtime hospice volunteer and a charter member of the Delavan Optimists. Siedelmann, a U.S. Air Force veteran, was an active member of American Legion Post 95.


He was recognized for his contributions to the community.


Siedelmann for seven years was the grand marshal of the city's Fourth of July parade and in 2009 was selected as an Outstanding Senior at the Walworth County Fair.


The Rev. James Schuerman of St. Andrews Catholic Church has worked at the church for only a year and a half but recognized early that Siedelmann was a dedicated parishioner, he said.


Siedelmann comforted people who were sick or dying and was a member of the church's bereavement committee, which meant he read passages for funeral Masses, Schuerman said.


Outside of his official church volunteer duties, Siedelmann was a kind and friendly man, Schuerman said.


"He was just a person that people liked very readily," Schuerman said. "He seemed to be able to connect with people on a lot of different levels."


Siedelmann's death leaves a big hole in the city council, said Mayor Mel Nieuwenhuis, who described himself as a colleague and friend of Siedelmann. The two also were political opponents; Siedelmann challenged Nieuwenhuis for the mayoral position in April 2009.


"I'm going to miss the many hours Ron and I would talk in my office or even over the phone," Nieuwenhuis said.


They talked about their city and about the health and well being of their mutual acquaintances, he said.


"It was not just politics," Nieuwenhuis said.


Siedelmann served on the Delavan City Council from 1997-1999 and from 2000-2006. He was re-elected in 2009 and has served since. He served three years as council president and as chairman of several committees.


Siedelmann did his homework before council meetings, Kitzman said. He read line by line through a 120-page city budget to check the math, she said.


"If he found only two or three typos in what I had put together, I thought I'd done a pretty good job," Kitzman said, laughing.


That care was typical of Siedelmann's attitude toward the city, she said.


"I think he had great love for Delavan," Kitzman said. "He was willing to spend his time and effort to make it a better place."



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