John Sigmund, Sr., humanitarian, dad of 9/11 victim


Lifelong Chestnut Hill area resident John F. Sigmund, Sr. saw his family's name prominently displayed in the news 20 years ago in a way that no family wants to see. John's daughter, Johanna (Springside School, class of 1994), was killed at age 25 in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11, along with 2,995 other victims.

Sigmund, 84, of Wyndmoor, died Sept. 14 from complications of a heart attack. Services were held Saturday, Sept. 25, at Our Mother of Consolation Church in Chestnut Hill.

Johanna Sigmund was working her first job out of college, at Fred Alger Management on the 93rd floor of the tower when she died. Her father, a devout Catholic, reacted to her death by starting two scholarship funds in Johanna's name, one at her alma mater, the Springside School, and one at St. Malachy School in North Philadelphia. Since then, the Johanna Louise Sigmund ’94 Scholarship Fund has raised $700,000+ from over 2200 donors, funding at least one scholarship a year. And “Run for Johanna” has raised almost $500,000 for St. Malachy School, also funding numerous scholarships.

“My father responded to the horror of losing his daughter with the forgiveness and grace that few possess,” said Sigmund's son, John F., Jr., 43. “In living like this after her death, I believe he kept Johanna alive. I wrote in a Facebook post something that I think sums up my dad: 'I doubt you had any trouble getting into heaven, but if you did, I’m confident you were able to talk your way in.'"

In a 2004 profile for his employer, Lincoln Investment Planning in Jenkintown, Sigmund discussed his response to the 9/11 catastrophe: “We have been supported by our bedrock of faith and are now members of a worldwide club we did not want to join: survivor families of victims of tragedy. We have learned that we can only move forward … we still believe that good ultimately outweighs the evil that is present in this life.”

Sigmund grew up in Wyncote and attended Immaculate Conception School in Jenkintown and then St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, graduating in 1954. He remained dedicated to “The Prep” for the rest of his life. He continued his Jesuit education at Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA, graduating in 1958. Sigmund paid for most of his Holy Cross education by driving a Good Humor ice cream truck in Northeast Philadelphia.

Sigmund's childhood home in Wyncote looked over the Thomas Williams Park ballfields, where his interest in sports started as a Little Leaguer and touch football playmate of Reggie Jackson, who went on to become a New York Yankee legend and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

After a decade working in Washington, DC and Paterson, NJ, Sigmund returned to Philadelphia in 1968 to take a job with the just-formed Lincoln Investment Planning. He would remain there for 50 years, forming lasting friendships with many of his clients and becoming one of the company’s leading financial planners. He was later inducted into the company's Hall of Fame.

In 1970, Sigmund married Ruth Behringer of Short Hills, NJ, now 77. They started their family in Chestnut Hill, celebrating the birth of Johanna in 1976 and second child, John, in 1978. The family moved to Wyndmoor and later Blue Bell, but John remained connected to the community, especially as a member of the Chestnut Hill Rotary Club. He found spiritual community at Our Mother Consolation Church in Chestnut Hill, St. Malachy’s Church in North Philadelphia and St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Ambler.

Sigmund was a lifelong athlete, playing racket sports at both the Germantown Cricket Club and the Philadelphia Cricket Club. “My sister and I gave him the nickname ‘tips galore,’” said John, Jr., “he would overwhelm you with tips, usually in the middle of your backswing.”

John is survived by his wife and son, brother Peter R. and sisters Mary Ann Wenniger and Kathryn Pearce (Arthur). His sister, Louise Regan, brother Paul, Paul’s wife, Barbara Sigmund, former mayor of Princeton, NJ, are all deceased. Donations in John's memory may be given to St. Joseph Prep School, 1733 W. Girard Ave., Phila. PA 19130.uted to this ar