With heavy hearts, we mourn the loss of our longtime friend and colleague Marilyn Siets, after her noble five-year battle against ovarian cancer.
We are better for having known her and will continue to be our best selves by asking, “What would Marilyn do?” Marilyn, we will carry you in our hearts forever.
Please take a few minutes to read this beautiful story about our dear friend and colleague, Marilyn Siets, published by USA Today on May 23, 2019:
Nearing the end of a five-year battle with ovarian cancer, Marilyn Siets had two goals that spurred her to fight on: witnessing her oldest daughter become a mother herself and seeing her son – her youngest child — graduate from high school.
Marilyn fulfilled the first dream July 28 when her daughter, Rae, a nurse at Capital Regional Medical Center, gave birth to her first child – a boy, Marek. But the second goal seemed out of reach when Marilyn’s organs began shutting down recently as her weakened body battled the flu three weeks before son Noah’s scheduled graduation from Lincoln High School.
When Marilyn’s husband, Johnny, called her friends and longtime colleagues at Sachs Media Group to let them know that Marilyn’s long ordeal with cancer was likely nearing an end, they reached out to Lincoln registrar Cindy Seitel to see if principal Allen Burch would consider conducting a graduation ceremony at Marilyn’s bedside at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. She asked how much time they had to arrange it. Not sure, they told her. Maybe not much.
Within hours, Seitel called back to say that Burch would be there the next morning. Then they contacted Leon Superintendent of Schools Rocky Hanna to see if he would also preside over the ceremony. Despite the cascading demands of the end of the school year, he enthusiastically agreed. It would be his third hospital graduation over the course of his career.
On May 9 at 10 a.m., Marilyn’s family and close friends gathered in her hospital room. Noah walked down the hospital corridor, dodging wheelchairs and medical equipment, in his hunter green cap and gown, as “Pomp and Circumstance” played from an iPhone.
With Marilyn proudly smiling up from her bed, Burch put a yellow stole and braided honor cord over Noah’s shoulders and told him he was graduating magna cum laude.
“I don’t even know what that means,” Noah said, prompting laughter from all.
Then Hanna spoke: “Life is a journey, and every day is a blessing from God. Nothing is guaranteed. So embrace every moment and tell the people in your life that you love them.”
One week later, Marilyn’s worsening condition prompted a move to Hospice House, where a steady stream of friends and family members have come to sit by her bedside and celebrate her life. They describe her as a devoted follower of Jesus; a gifted artist who quilted, knitted, crocheted and excelled at all crafts; a great financial strategist, who helped manage the financial side of Sachs Media Group as it grew; a loving wife, mother, daughter, sister, grandmother and friend.
She is someone who planned her quilt patterns with an Excel spreadsheet, marrying her analytical precision with her creative expression. She was blessed with an angelic singing voice. A Lincoln High School graduate herself, she once sang with the Lincoln chorus.
Mostly, all say, she will be remembered for her expansive heart. At Sachs Media Group, she was the office house mother, taking a warm, personal, maternal interest in everyone.
On June 1, Noah Siets will walk across the stage at the Leon County Civic Center and accept his diploma with the rest of his class. For him, it will be his second walk, with the first one fulfilling his mother’s final wish, as evident from the big smile on her valiant face.