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Leonard John Siegel
October 21, 1928 ~ October 6, 2023 (age 94) 94 Years Old
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Leonard John Siegel, a professor emeritus in California University of Pennsylvania's Department of History known for his contributions to education and his dedication, died October 6, 2023. Dr. Siegel was 94 years old.
Few people know the history of the rise of nationalism in the 20th century the way Dr. Siegel did. His specialty area of study was: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich—his reasoning for this study was to enlighten and educate people to understand, "we are doomed to repeat that what we don't understand." He traveled to Heidelberg, Germany to interview the architect of the Third Reich, Albert Speer, at his home in 1980. In the late 1970s, Siegel began developing a course on Hitler and the Holocaust for the university, and Speer, who by that time had written two memoirs that sold several million copies, granted Siegel a personal interview. Siegel, accompanied by his wife, Lorraine, traveled to Germany, with a list of questions he wanted to ask Speer, who had used millions of forced laborers, most of them prisoners of war or civilians from occupied countries, to produce armaments to fuel the German war machine.
Over the years, Dr. Siegel had amassed a large collection of historical documents, military medals, papers, mementos and more than 300 signatures of world leaders, most of which he donated to John Carroll University, his alma mater. He met and talked with powerful world figures; among them were presidents Harry Truman, whom he met during a campaign visit to Ohio when Truman was running against Republican candidate Thomas Dewey (“He had a never- give-up attitude that influenced me for the rest of my life,” Dr. Siegel said), Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter.
In 1981, while Dr. Siegel was talking with colleagues from Cal U.’s history department, Pam Turner, Reagan’s deputy assistant for legislative affairs, called him on the telephone on Reagan’s behalf, seeking his insights about the Ayatollah Khomeini, the religious and political leader of Iran who led the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Dr. Siegel had written a dissertation about the Middle East and British control there, which was turned into a book, “A History of the British East India Company from 1813 and its Aftermath.”
In 1991, Siegel and his son, Bill, a high school history teacher, traveled to Wood Cliff Lakes, N.J., for a two-hour conversation – and a cup of coffee imported from Lebanon – with former president Richard Nixon, with whom Siegel had corresponded.
Dr. Siegel grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where he attended Case Western Reserve and John Carroll University. He was the son of the late Louis Rolland Siegel, a professor at Case Western Reserve, and a dental surgeon. His late mother, Ruth Kaufman was a dietician for the Masonic Home in St. Petersburg, FL. Dr. Siegel also had a sister, Carol Siegel, who passed away in 2020.
Dr. Siegel is survived by his children, Lou Ann Lincoski and William Siegel and his spouse Judy. He also had two grandchildren, Kelsea Lincoski, and Ryan Siegel and his spouse Gabrielle.
Family and friends will be welcomed in the Mariscotti Funeral Home, 323 Fourth St., California, PA. on Thursday, October 12th from 10 AM to 12 Noon. A Funeral Service will begin after the visitation at 12 Noon in the funeral home. Interment to follow at Phillipsburg Cemetery.