David Sigismund

David Sigismund July 22, 1918 – January 5, 2013 David Sigismund was born in Salt Lake City on July 22, 1918, the first child of Oscar Sigismund and Alice Brigham Sigismund. Their family, which expanded to include four sisters, lived in Washington and California before buying property in Sutherlin, OR, to establish Camp Zenith, an auto court and small grocery store. David graduated from high school in Sutherlin, where he was a member of the basketball team and played trumpet in a local band. David became involved with mining and flying - two dominant themes in his life - while still a teenager. At 17, he left Sutherlin to attend Mackay School of Mines in Reno, NV, for a year and a half before returning to Oregon. There he worked with Pop Wilmot in a mercury mine and also learned to fly. Then David moved to Berkley, CA, to work at the Port of Embarcadero for an engineering firm. On Sunday, December 7, 1941, David was ice-skating with a date when the music stopped to announce that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. The next day he went across the Golden Gate Bridge to Hamilton Field and took a test to get into the Cadets of the United States Army Air Corp. After training, he served as a combat pilot and operations officer in New Guinea where his service earned him a number of medals. Like many veterans, David seldom spoke about this experience but occasionally shared stories or military photos of the dangers and hardships, which clearly marked him deeply. In 1944 David was assigned to help train new pilots in Florence, S.C. He went with a group of officers to the local USO where he met Anne Gardiner, a young teacher with a beautiful smile who had hoped to major in architecture but, due to a wartime lack of instructors, graduated in home economics. They were married on June 6, 1945. After discharge as hostilities with Japan ended, they drove across the United States to visit his family in Oregon and then settled in Golden, where David enrolled in the Colorado School of Mines. Anne designed a house for the family that the two of them then built. David had learned carpentry from his granddad and dad, and he later passed on his skills to his sons and grandsons who have enjoyed this knowledge and learning experience ever since. The Golden house was sold to the school in 1953, when he left to become a full-time test pilot in the Air Force National Guard and the family moved to Clovis, N.M. David rose to the rank of colonel as squadron and group commander of the 140th Fighter Bomber Group. He was among the first pilots to break the sound barrier, making him a rare member of the "Mach Busters Club", a risky feat that required putting his F86 Sabre jet into a steep dive over the plains of Colorado. In 1955, David and Anne moved the family into the 26 Road house in Grand Junction. At first David worked for Bob Daniel, a classmate and friend from Golden. His wife, Belle, had become a good friend of Anne's and the two families have shared an enduring history together ever since. Soon David established Sigma Mining Company with Darrell Maluy, and the men became lifelong business associates and friends. Over time the company developed properties in Wyoming, South Dakota and Colorado. The partners kept their families based in Grand Junction and regularly drove or flew back home to participate in family life. The Sigismund children have many memories of times spent at these remote mining operations, where many of them learned to drive and work. The Sigismund family includes six children, Anne (James), Brig (Linda), Charles (Barbara), Alice, Walker, and Cathy "CJ" (Brent). David and Anne were fortunate that three of their children eventually settled in Grand Junction and the other three often returned to the family home, where 12 grandchildren (Betsy, David, Laura, Darrell, Kathryn, Katie, David, Charles, Will, Hayley, William and Sig) got to know their grandparents and each other. David and Anne played couples bridge and were longstanding members of a walking group and dance club. They enjoyed gardening and entertaining family and friends in their beautiful backyard and home with many built-in features designed by both and built by David. Often traveling in his 182 Cessna, they took many trips over the years, visiting with their children in California, Canada and New York. David also regularly flew around Western Colorado with his good friend Glen Wold in order to keep up both of their flying skills well into their 80's. After 64 years and 19 days of marriage, Anne Sigismund died of a stroke in 2009. David, who had always assumed he would be the first to go, missed her terribly but remained engaged in life and read widely (most recently on his "just dandy" Kindle, especially enjoying presidential histories) and kept informed about local, national and international news and politics. He enjoyed regular lunches out and time with his local daughters, Alice and CJ, and their families; looked forward to Sunday breakfast at the Egg and I with Brig and Linda (who lived with him) and appreciated the many trips they made to Enstrom Candies for coffee and ice cream; indulged in his favorite tastes including chocolate, blond Oreos, smoked salmon and SKOAL; and recently was very enthusiastic about the movie Lincoln, his favorite president. Just before dinner on Christmas Day, 2012, David suffered a broken leg. A lengthy ER stay and admission procedure finally ended with him settling in to the first overnight hospital stay of his life. It was after midnight when the nurse asking the final admission questions thought to ask, "What would you like me to know about you, David?" Without hesitation he replied, "I have had a good life. I had a wonderful wife, six wonderful children and 12 wonderful grandchildren". After a brief round of recoveries and relapses, David died 11 days later. His children and grandchildren, his only family survivors, miss him very much and will celebrate his life at a family memorial this summer, when both his and his beloved Anne's physical remains will be laid to rest together forever.

Published in The Daily Sentinel on July 28, 2013