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David P. Sieja (1930-2016): Ohio Bell worker found joy in magic

David P. Sieja, a retired phone company worker by day and magician by night, died Feb. 1 at LanePark of Oregon assisted living facility in Oregon. He was 86.

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Sieja

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Mr. Sieja recently fell ill and likely died of kidney failure, his daughter Dorothy Mills said.

A Toledo native, Mr. Sieja worked for 32 years at Ameritech, known then as Ohio Bell. He retired at 58 as the main frame computer operator for the Toledo area.

He was proud of his work, Ms. Mills said, but his passion was magic. He performed magic shows often dressed as a clown. For years he taught magic lessons at the Way Public Library in Perrysburg.

“He always had his little briefcase that had tricks in it,” Ms. Mills said. “Wherever he went, anybody who knew him, he would do a trick — or two, or three, or four.”

The money he made from magic shows early in life helped pay for two or three years of schooling at Purdue University, though he did not finish his degree.

He received a certificate for 50 years of membership with the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and representatives from the Toledo Society of Magicians will perform a special broken-wand ceremony at his funeral. The ceremony is performed to honor a brotherhood member when he dies.

Mr. Sieja was also a member of the Society of American Magicians and the Clowns of America International.

Ms. Mills said the ceremony is a fitting send-off for her father who brought joy to countless people through his tricks.

“His idea for doing magic was if you could entertain someone even for a few minutes to have them forget about their problems and have them smile or laugh,” she said. “He enjoyed it.”

Mr. Sieja was also active with the Toledo Telephone Pioneers, a group of Ameritech retirees. He founded the newsletter, “The Ringing Circuit,” to keep retirees connected and up-to-date on milestones and happenings, and was sure to call each retiree on his or her birthday and half-birthday to check in.

“His death just really rocked me,” said Shirley Sumner, treasurer of the Toledo Telephone Pioneers who made those calls alongside Mr. Sieja. “He was a great guy.”

Mrs. Sumner and her husband Jim, both of Lambertville, Michigan, worked with Mr. Sieja at Ohio Bell. She remembers her colleague as a fair boss who was proud of where he worked, as well as a family man.

Mr. Sieja was born May 29, 1930, in Toledo to Adam and Dorothy Sieja, their only child. His father worked for Champion Spark Plug and his mother worked as a housekeeper.

He met his wife, Marion, on a blind date while he was serving in the U.S. Navy and would drive from Toledo to New York, where she lived, most weekends during their courtship. The couple married July 30, 1955, and in 1972 made their home in Perrysburg. Mr. Sieja was a member of the First Church of Christ Science in Maumee.

The couple traveled extensively in retirement and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Hawaii in 2005.

“They probably did one or two trips a year,” Ms. Mills said. “They did cruises, they did the Canadian Rockies by train. Whatever they wanted to go see, they did.”

Surviving are his wife, Marion; son David; daughter Dorothy Mills; four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Visitation is from 3-7 p.m. today at the Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home, 501 Conant St., Maumee. Funeral services are 11 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.

Contact Sarah Elms at: selms@theblade.com or 419-724-6103 or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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