Melvin Chester Sieks (1915 - 1996)

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Nicknames: "Mel"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Peoria, Peoria, Illinois
Death: Died in Peoria, Peoria, Illinois, United States
Occupation: Grocer, Auto Sales, Airman
Managed by: Jim Sieks
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Melvin Chester Sieks

Mel enlisted Dec 22, 1941 [Pearl Harbor was Dec 7, 1941 !!]

Mel served in World War II as a 2nd Lieutenant and Navigator in the 828th bomber squadron. His serial number was 0-70299.. He saw most of his action over Italy http://www.485thbg.org/485th_828_photos_pg1.htm

Mel was a great athlete,- on the Manual Training High School team. In later years, he played against the Harlem Globe Trotters:A newspaper article, contributed by a Peoria man remembers Mel's team beating the Globetrotters — twice ...see excerpt below

PEORIA (AP) — The Peoria Civic Center’s Carver Arena was filled with laughter on a recent evening as the Harlem Globetrotters, the clown princes of basketball, performed their comic tricks and once again humbled the New York Nationals.

But Alvin Gebhardt, 89, remembers another Globetrotter team that didn’t clown around so much when it came to Peoria in 1940.

‘‘I played for Dayton Keith,’’ an all-star team sponsored by a Peoria auto dealership, recalled Gebhardt. ‘‘Our team were all-comers. The Globetrotters were playing in Chicago, and we got them to come down to Peoria and play us at the armory.’’

Billed then as the ‘‘original Famous Globe Trotters,’’ the heralded all-black team came to town with a record of 147 wins and 3 defeats. Dayton Keith was undefeated, with 33 victories. The Peoria team was loaded with great players, including Chuck Orsborn and Les Getz of Bradley University’s ‘‘Famous Five’’ and Keith Bare, a former Bradley center. The team also had Mel Sieks and Gebhardt, both all-state YMCA players.

‘‘Later, Harry Combes and Ted Panish played for us, too,’’ said Gebhardt, who would later become a college basketball official.

Panish was another member of Bradley’s ‘‘Famous Five,’’ and Combes was a University of Illinois star who later served as the school’s coach.

The game at the armory was a hot ticket at 40 cents per person.

‘‘What I remember about the game is that I was running around all afternoon guarding this guy who was very fast,’’ Gebhardt said. ‘‘I had a hard time staying up with my man. I bumped him a lot to keep him from getting the ball.’’

It was no charade. Both teams played hard.

‘‘The Globe Trotters did some tricks, but they were out to win, too,’’ the octogenarian recalled.

According to the box score, the Dayton Keith team won 34-24, with Gebhardt scoring three points. Orsborn was the leading scorer for Dayton Keith with eight.

It’s not to say the Famous Globe Trotters got homered, but Panish was listed as the referee in a newspaper account of the game.

‘‘They weren’t happy,’’ Gebhardt recalled of the visitors. ‘‘After we beat them, their main guy comes into our locker room to set up another game with the winner taking all the money. But this time they insisted on a neutral court.’’

A second game was played about two weeks later in Galesburg, and the Famous Globe Trotters won 27-24.

Gebhardt remembers being paid about $20 for each game he played with Dayton Keith.

‘‘If I got $20, Harry Combes had to get at least $40,’’ he joked.

Two or three years later, Dayton Keith, with their name changed to Rossetter Motors, played a team called the World Champion Harlem Globe Trotters before a crowd of 1,500 at the armory. The Globe Trotters were led by their captain, Duke Cumberland, who scored 11 points. But the star of the game was Combes, who led Rossetter Motors to a 42-36 victory.

Combes ended the game with 21 points. Gebhardt scored four.

Gebhardt was also a baseball star at Peoria High School, which led him to an encounter with another sports legend. Some years after his graduation, he was a catcher on a Sunday Morning League all-star squad that faced legendary pitcher Satchel Paige and his traveling Ciudad Trujillo team.

‘‘We played under the lights at Caterpillar Field in East Peoria,’’ Gebhardt said. ‘‘I would have celebrated if I had gotten a foul ball off Satchel Paige, but I didn’t touch the ball. We ended up losing 4-3.’’

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After the war, Mel and his brother Elwood owned and operated a grocery store in the El Vista section of Peoria

                                   Following is the obituary for Melvin

Journal Star (Peoria, IL) - Thursday, May 16, 1996 Readability: 4-5 grade level (Lexile: 750L) PEORIA -- Melvin C. Sieks , 80, of 1705 W. West Aires died at 12:05 a.m. Wednesday, May 15, 1996, at Methodist Medical Center.

Born Dec. 14, 1915, in Peoria to August Henry and Bertha Ida Ehn Sieks , he married Betty Weirschem. She died in August 1975 in Peoria. He later married Barbara Sayles on June 15, 1977, in Peoria. She survives.

Also surviving are two sons, David Sieks of Boulder, Colo., and Thomas Sieks of Frankfort; three stepsons from his second marriage, Thomas Milus of Pleasanton, Calif., Stewart Milus of Peoria and John Milus of Peoria Heights; seven grandchildren; two brothers, Elwood of Peoria and Elmore of Morton; and two sisters, Mrs. Gene (Alice) Hobaugh of Cape Coral, Fla., and Mrs. Jay (Lillian) Logue of Commerce, Texas.

He also was preceded in death by one son, Melvin Sieks Jr., four brothers and one sister.

A grocer, he owned and operated Sieks Brothers Grocery Store at Forrest Hill and Gale avenues until he retired in 1967. He later worked for S&K Chevrolet and Jim McComb Chevrolet.

He was a World War II Army Air Forces veteran.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Wilton Mortuary. The Rev. Jerritt Brown will officiate. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 at the mortuary. Burial will be in Swan Lake Memory Gardens.

Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society.

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Melvin Sieks's Timeline

1915
December 14, 1915
Peoria, Peoria, Illinois
1941
1941
- 1946
Age 25
1944
November 13, 1944
Age 28
Cook County, IL, USA
1945
August 12, 1945
Age 29
1977
June 15, 1977
Age 61
Peoria, IL, USA
1996
May 15, 1996
Age 80
Peoria, Peoria, Illinois, United States
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Peoria, Peoria, Illinois, United States