(Seguin) -- The name Phil Seidenberger has held a number of titles over the years in Seguin. He was chairman of the Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, chairman of the SEDC Board, chairman of the Guadalupe Regional Medical Foundation Board, he was executive-vice president at CMC Steel Texas, and he most recently served on the Seguin City Council.
Seidenberger was also a devoted husband, father and grandfather -- as well as a good friend to many in the community. Seidenberger died late Thursday night. He had been battling cancer for months.
Seguin Mayor Don Keil had the honor of knowing Seidenberger beyond their time together on the Seguin City Council. Keil says that they grew up together, and that Seidenberger was an amazing man.
"He was a local kid who grew up in just a working class neighborhood. He was over in my neighborhood over on the west side. I lived over off of Baker Street and they were just a few blocks away. (He) went to work for the biggest local company in town...shoveling slag out at what was then SMI. (He) ended up rising to great heights within that company and ended up coming back home to run the company that he started at. I don't know it's just a great story of a great man," said Keil.
Keil says Seidenberger did so much good in the community. He says Seidenberger was genuinely a good person, and you saw that in how he ran his business, and how he connected himself to the community.
"Obviously (working) with CMC throughout his whole life, all the great things that he did for that company and in turn got that company to do for the city of Seguin. I think there wasn't a charitable event anywhere that wasn't attended by Phil, or CMC in one way or another. He was such a very, very valuable part of this community and such a great guy. I'm really going to miss him as a friend as much as anything. It's really tough to see somebody like that who's really literally my age, and I grew up with him, and to have to go through this. It's just a really tough time," said Keil.
Seidenberger often made an impact on people whenever he was around them. Robert Haynes, chief executive officer for Guadalupe Regional Medical Center, says "Phil" was one of those guys, who was larger than life.
"My experience with Phil is that he's one of those guys who is larger than life. Every now and then you'll run across (someone like this). I call them the LBJ's of the world. Edmund Kuempel was one of those guys. Phil Seidenberger is that guy. He's the guy, who brings people together and makes things happen, and people follow. We call them leaders. Phil had a way of taking side A and side C, and moving them to a perspective that is B. I admired that about him. I worked with him at EDC -- economic development (corporation), (and the) chamber of commerce when he was chair, etc. They say everybody is replaceable. He's not. People like that are not replaceable, and that's ok, because we need people like that in the world and in our lives and Phil is to be remembered that way, bigger than life. It's a great loss for the community," said Haynes.
Haynes says that Seidenberger had a special way of bringing people together, and for always finding a way to get things done.
"He was the (Seguin EDC) chair when I joined the board. The Chamber of Commerce, I chaired it, but he chaired it as well. You watch and learn, and it really is. And the work we do, regardless of what our specialty is, is how do you bring people together. He did it in a manner that seemed effortless and I'm sure it wasn't. He did it with a cigar in his hand and a smile and a hug, but he is a presence. Some people just have a presence. That's not something you gain, you just have it and he had it. Those of us appreciate that because that makes the job that much easier for the rest of us when we have someone like that around," said Haynes.
Terry Boehnke served together with Seidenberger on the Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors many years ago. She says she looked up to Seidenberger, and always knew that she could count on his leadership and support.
"Well Phil was a friend and we got to be really good friends on the chamber board and I was his chair-elect and then when he was past chair and I was chair, he was a total mentor. It amazed me that I could call him and in 15 minutes be in his office seeking advice and giving advice and it's just like world stopped. He had a plant to run and he had time for me. He had time for everyone. I don't think that I was special. I think Phil treated everyone that way. In fact, I know he did. Phil was all in -- in everything he did. It didn't matter if (it was) his interaction with his grandchildren, what he did with his deer lease, his cars, his family, Nancy, anything that you ask Phil to do, wherever Phil was -- he was all in and made everyone feel wonderful. We used to laugh and say how can anyone be that nice all the time?" said Boehnke.
Mark Long, president and CEO of First Commercial Bank, knew Seidenberger personally, like the many others that were interviewed for this story. But Seidenberger was also a member of the bank's board of directors. Long says after retiring from CMC Steel, Seidenberger accepted his request to sit on the board and quickly picked up the banking business. Despite his many contributions to the community, Long says his love for his family always came first.
"We just enjoyed a friendly relationship. When we were not talking about bank business, Phil's interest were his friends and his family. He loved to talk about his wife Nancy and his daughter Bree (Vickers) and son-in-law Todd and the grand kids. Anything they were interested in, he was ready to go participate in. So you'd find him up at Lake Breeze Ski Lodge watching the ski shows, deer hunting, just whatever he could do to be involved with his family, because that came first but also to fulfill the responsibilities that he had in the many capacities that he served in the city and the county. Almost every non-profit, he would support in someway with his volunteerism or financially. He never met a stranger. He would engage in conversation with anyone and it was genuine and when he left that conversation, he had made a new friend," said Seidenberger.
Visitation will be held today from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today at Tres Hewell Mortuary. His family will be on hand to receive friends from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. today at Emanuel's Lutheran Church. The funeral is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday at Emanuel's Lutheran Church. Interment with follow in the Guadalupe Valley Memorial Park. A reception will follow at the Texas Agricultural Education & Heritage Center, The Big Red Barn.
Phil Seidenberger was 67.