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Life Story / Obituary
Madeline M. Siehling was a woman who made a difference in the lives of all those around her. She was a professor by trade, an example by choice, and a loving wife, mother, sister and friend by the grace of God. She taught statistics for many years, which was the perfect career for her. To those who knew her, Madeline was always one in a million, and a gift we cherish even today.
Madeline’s story began on a warm fall day in 1959, as the leaves began to turn color in Niles, Michigan. Those were tumultuous times in this country, which was battling the Cold War, the Space Race, and coming to terms with the new, Nuclear Age. Yet on September 30, 1959, John and Charlene (Conn) Savoie celebrated the birth of their first child, a beautiful baby girl they named Madeline.
Madeline was the oldest of seven children in the family’s home in Gladstone, the Upper Peninsula town where they relocated when she was just three. She was joined by her little siblings Laura, Michelle, Sarah, Renee, and sadly, twin sisters who died shortly after birth. Her dad was a brave Michigan State Police Trooper, and her mom was a hardworking homemaker and accountant (passing along her mathematical mind to her daughter, as well).
Madeline attended Gladstone Public Schools, and eventually Gladstone High School. There she became very active on the gymnastics team, even winning many awards, and she was a member of the French Club, too. After school, she went to work at the McDonald’s in nearby Escanaba, her first real job.
In the summertime, Madeline and her family shared many special vacations, taking their travel trailer to many Michigan State Parks and other states, enjoying the outdoors together. The family were also faithful members of the All Saints Catholic Church in Gladstone, where Madeline received her first Holy Communion, and her confirmation in the church.
After she graduated in 1977, Madeline enrolled in Michigan Technological University in the U.P. town of Houghton, but she found much more than an education there.
One day she met a handsome young electrical engineering student named Mark Siehling, and the sparks flew between them. They were young, impressionable freshmen, but they quickly fell in love, and dating all through college.
After she graduated with her Bachelors degree in Mathematics & Statistics, Madeline and her college sweetheart were married, on April 4, 1981, at her home parish, All Saints Catholic Church in Gladstone.
Following their wedding, the newlyweds and recent college grads embarked on a wonderful, four-week adventure around Europe together, before moving back to Michigan, and into a duplex in the Grand Rapids suburb of Hudsonville.
Mark began working at Goodrich, while Madeline concentrated on caring for her home, and soon enough, her growing family. Before they knew it, the new bride and groom became mother and father, as well, with their first child, their son John, born in September of 1982. Lisa joined the family in April of 1984, and Kathryn rounded out the happy family in April of 1986.
Madeline and Mark bought their duplex after a few years, living there three years before moving to a home in Allendale in 1989. Eventually, they bought a bigger, beautiful home in Zeeland, where Madeline would remain the rest of her days.
Madeline loved being a wife and mother, and what an amazing homemaker she was. She kept a very neat, organized home, and her family was always foremost in her life. She also loved to knit, crochet, and sew, and her beautiful creations of baby blankets, hats, mittens and scarves were great gifts to family and friends.
Starting just after college, Madeline became active in gymnastics again, serving as a high school judge, trainer and coordinator, and helped establish rules for competition, too. She was always a huge sports fan, though, and enjoyed cheering on the Lions and Packers, and watching the Grand Slam tennis events and Olympics on TV, too.
When her kids were out of elementary school, Madeline resumed her career, taking an Adjunct Professor position at Grand Valley State University, where she taught statistics. She later became a full-time professor of statistics, and was almost universally beloved by her students for her kind, caring demeanor, sense of humor, and ability to make complex ideas understandable.
In the summertime, the family did much together, and took great family vacations over the years to Germany, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore, Isle Royale, Michigan, and even to Florida for spring break. They always did lots together, though, and were faithful members of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Jenison for many years, until joining the new St. Luke’s University Parish in Allendale.
Family was always the most important thing to her, and Madeline was very close to her parents and sisters throughout her life, visiting them often. She loved being a part of her son John’s wedding, and was excited about her daughter Lisa’s engagement.
In May of 2005, Madeline was diagnosed with colon cancer, after battling some health problems. She underwent surgery, followed by 12 months of chemotherapy, and was deemed cancer-free. Yet two months later, cancer was discovered on her liver, requiring surgery and more chemotherapy. Through it all, Madeline remained an upbeat, vibrant and positive woman, and continued to teach her classes, as well.
In July of 2008, Madeline finally resigned her position at Grand Valley, leaving as a highly-respected member of the faculty, and a beloved teacher to so many students. Her health began to decline further, and in September of 2008, she was placed in hospice care in her home, where she was lovingly cared for by her daughters. Sadly, Madeline passed away Tuesday morning, October 7, 2008, at 12:53 a.m., at her home with her loving family at her side. She was 49.
Madeline was a wonderful woman, who made such a difference in the lives of others. She was a professor by trade but a teacher by choice, and a beloved wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend to so many. She was taken too soon, yet her life was a great gift to us, a gift we will cherish and remember forever. She will be greatly missed.
She is survived by her husband of 27 years, Mark Siehling; her children, John and Jennifer Siehling, Lisa Siehling (fiancé Brandyn Thorsen), Kathryn Siehling; her parents, John and Charlene Savoie; her father-in-law, and mother-in-law, Bernard and Brigitta Siehling; her sisters and brothers-in-law, Laura and Tom DeAgostino, Michelle and Mark Valk, Sarah and Junior Aviles. Renee and John Van Brocklin; many nieces. nephews and friends. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday morning at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 2700 Baldwin Dr. in Jenison (please meet at the church on Friday) Relatives and friends may meet her family on Thursday from 2-4 and 7-9 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home-Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, and again at the church from 10:00 AM until the service begins. Contributions in her memory may be made to Gilda's Club. To share your own memory of her and to sign her guest book, visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com