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Alfred A. Siess, Jr. passed away on November 9, 2023 at St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem with family at his side.
'Al,' as he was known to family and friends, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1935 to Alfred A. Siess, Sr and Matilda S. Siess. He graduated high school at age 16 and from Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Civil Engineering at 20. He then served for three years as a Naval Officer as an engineer in the "Seabees," or Construction Battalion. Al did graduate work in business at Boston College and earned his MBA at Lehigh University.
Alfred married Gale M. Scholes in 1966, and they settled on a beautiful wooded property in Upper Saucon Township in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania to raise their family. They built a modern addition using reclaimed post and beam timbers onto the original, 250 year-old stone farmhouse and early 20th century addition. Al and Gale lived together on their beloved property until his passing.
Al’s primary career was as an engineer and project manager for Bethlehem Steel Corporation for 28 years. He was the lead project manager of three suspension bridges, two missile bases, a steel mill complex, and several large facilities and office buildings– including an iconic building visible from NYC’s Central Park. He shares a patent for a new suspension bridge cable assembly method developed in Newport, RI.
Al loved the outdoors and had a very strong environmental ethic. He was an avid outdoorsman, bird watcher, hiker, scout leader, and explorer scout leader, along with his wife. He and his wife loved to sail their Venture 21 foot sailboat, “The GALE,” off Block Island, by the coast of Rhode Island, and other salt and freshwater locales. Their boat was named in part for strong winds, but also as a clever anagram of sorts, as it contained the letters of both of their first names.
Al enjoyed photography and often served as not only the family photographer, but also the cast photographer for his two sons' many theatrical and musical productions. After his retirement, he enjoyed landscape and wildlife photography, and made greeting cards with striking images of local flora and fauna.
Alfred co-founded the Saucon Association for a Viable Environment (“S.A.V.E.”) in 1969, helping start the first recycling program in the area and accomplishing many land and environmental protection initiatives. He served on SAVE’s board of directors for 24 years and as president for three separate terms.
He was active in politics, and served as an Upper Saucon Township Supervisor–running on a platform of “continuing my efforts to preserve the local environment while maintaining a sound economy.” He wrote a weekly column and editorials for the East Penn Free Press on economics and politics for many years. Al ran for State Senate in 1986 on a platform of environmental protection, transportation and infrastructure improvement. While this effort against a long-time incumbent did not see him elected to Harrisburg, his campaign did focus attention on these issues and resulted in protection for farmland and historic properties.
Al was also active in volunteer community service, co-founding the Upper Saucon Lions Club and serving as its president and in other capacities for several terms over the years. The club’s many civic activities include their annual flea market to raise funds for the community, held at Living Memorial Park in Coopersburg; a fitting location for Al’s memorial service.
Environmental sustainability was vitally important to Al, and after retiring from Bethlehem Steel, he made a significant impact in over 50 communities from Washington D.C. to upstate NY through his largely volunteer role as a consultant to provide non-polluting (intensive materials recovery, recycling and composting) alternatives to incinerators and landfills.
Al also remained active in his career field after retirement. He designed and taught graduate courses and programs in construction management for 19 years at Drexel University in Philadelphia as an adjunct professor, as well as courses on environmental issues at Muhlenberg College in Allentown.
Al is survived by his wife Gale of nearly 57 years, his sons Matthew Siess and Daniel Siess Lilkas-Rain, daughters-in-law Candice Siess and Kristen Lilkas, and grandchildren Caden Rain, Alyra Rain, Willow Lilkas-Morse and Zachary Siess. He is also survived by his sister Audrey Erbes, sister-in-law and brother-in-law Jane and Ken Checkeye, brother-in-law and sister-in-law Addison Scholes, Jr. and Mercy Scholes; nephews and nieces Jonathan and Meg Wells, Ben and Kim Checkeye, Andy Checkeye, Wes and Roshelle Checkeye, and Erica and Nate Shorb; and nine grand nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, and his younger sister Betty when she was a child.
There will be a memorial service and celebration of life held on Saturday, December 30th at 11:00 AM indoors at the Living Memorial Park Community Building, 211 E. Fairmount, Coopersburg, PA 18036.
Donations in lieu of flowers are requested in his memory to Wildlands Conservancy, Inc. based in Emmaus, PA. www.wildlandspa.org