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GUTSCHE, Siegfried Adolf

June 10, 1949 – Hanover, Germany
September 15, 2013 – Calgary, Alberta

Sig, beloved husband of Shelagh Maureen Gutsche (nee Lehane) of Calgary, AB, passed away on September 15, 2013 at the age of 64 years.

Siegfried Gutsche was a charismatic serial entrepreneur, super dad, loving husband, pillar of the Calgary community, philanthropist, savior of the Calgary Stampeders and a role model to many people.

He was raised in a poor but hardworking family, son to a master baker, Emma, and hardworking city arborist, Adolf. He might not have had much, but his loving parents always made sure that food was a celebratory meal, teaching him the importance of family, hard work, and having a tasty feast. At age eight, his knowledge of food led him to his first business, marketing the scrap food of a local grocer to residents of his poor neighborhood, who delighted at the grade four student’s bargain prices. Over the next few years, he’d launch a dozen more business ventures, mentoring his younger brothers Helmut and Armin.

At age 20, he met the love of his life, Shelagh, a social work student at the University of Calgary. He was captivated by her cheerful Irish wit and energetic personality. Half a year into the relationship, he was already asking for her hand in marriage, although it would take a year of convincing before he’d get the full approval of his soon-to-be father-in-law. After a few years of honeymooning, the family man and his bride brought their daughter, Kyla, into the world, and thereafter, a son named Jeremy.

Meanwhile, the serial entrepreneur moved on from his teenage years as a boy business man to becoming a top Calgary dealmaker. Highly active in local philanthropy, he organized charity events, foundations and even convinced local business people to donate 300 horses to race for charity.

With an infectious smile, unrivalled charisma, and the golden touch, his signature ability was to see potential in people and places that others overlooked. He could make you smile when you were down, laugh when you were upset and see opportunity in crisis.

Against all odds, he rescued the Calgary Stampeders from receivership, created the Calgary Stampeders Alumni Charity Foundation and befriended literally thousands of fans. Over the next six years, his efforts resulted in the biggest party in town, averaging sellout games with 35,000 fans, participation in the Western Finals five out of six times, and two Grey Cups championships. In the final year of his ownership, the fans awarded him permanent possession of the Keith Spaith Memorial Award, typically reserved for the fan’s choice of the Most Valuable Player.

Meanwhile, he inspired his two children to do great things in the world of entrepreneurship. His daughter, Kyla, an Oxford-educated art history professor, created a remarkable business called Cosmetic Transformations, which helps to restore the appearances of cancer survivors, trauma victims, and people who have been disfigured. During the same timeframe, Sig’s son Jeremy founded TrendHunter.com, the world’s largest most popular trend website, inspiring more than 100,000,000 people in search of their next business ideas. The two continue their father’s legacy in the world of innovation.

His last year was his greatest, both personally and professionally. The year began with his induction to the Stampeders Wall of Fame, and ended with him fundraising millions for charity. Both were wonderful legacies to his career. Personally, his daughter, Kyla, married the love of her life, Dr. Eliot Beaubien, who Sig welcomed as a son-in-law with open arms. The couple gave birth to Alexander and Alethea, making Sig a grandfather, and sparking his (and his wife’s) desire to retire and move east to be the best grandparents they could be. Sig’s son, Jeremy, became engaged to Shelby Walsh, a young woman Sig loved as a daughter. In the two weeks before his heart attack, he flew to visit his immediate family, leaving them with wonderful memories. In his last week, he was visited by his son, Jeremy, for a visit that involved an interview about Sig’s life. Jeremy had been finishing up a chapter in his next book that will immortalize his father’s remarkable story, finished just a few days before Sig’s unexpected heart attack. In those words and in the memories of those who loved him, Sig Gutsche’s legacy will live on.

He leaves behind his loving brothers and their families, Helmut and Lorna Gutsche, and their children Billie, Dustin and Emma; and Armin Gutsche and Holly Jackson. As well, he was extremely close to his in-laws, nieces and nephews, including: Mary-Ellen Kavanagh and her son Shane, who considered Sig to be a father figure; Joe and Lynn Lehane and children Shelan, Lisa, Jon, Katie and Mollie; Patricia and Andy Smith and children Carly and Brendan. As well, many saw him as an uncle, including: Rayne Caroline; Michael and Carolyn Collins (and their parents Scott and Martha); and Shauna, Jennifer, Rayette, Carmen and Peter Tompkinson (and their parents Don and Pauline).

Sig was a remarkable man who leaves us with a few powerful lessons:
1. Family comes first.
2. Be genuinely interested in other people.
3. Be ambitious.
4. Make others feel like they are a part of something.
5. You can always find the bright opportunity in times of difficulty.

Funeral Services will be held at St. Luke’s Catholic Church (Corner of Northmount Drive & Northland Drive N.W.) on Friday September 20, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. A Private Graveside Service to follow at Queen’s Park Cemetery. Condolences may be forwarded through www.mcinnisandholloway.com. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Sig’s favorite charity, Ovarian Cancer Canada, whose research helped to save the life of his remarkable daughter, Kyla: http://www.ovariancanada.org.

In living memory of Sig Gutsche, a tree will be planted at Big Hill Springs Park Cochrane by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Crowfoot Chapel, 82 CROWFOOT CIRCLE N.W. Telephone: (403) 241-0044.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Catherine Howson :

    Sincere love and respect sent your way.

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  2. My deepest condolences go out to the entire Gutsche family. Sig throughout his days touched and inspired many people and will be remembered for all that he did for others and our community – Thank you Sig!

    Rocco Romano

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  3. Our deepest condolences to the entire Gutsche family. I personally knew Sig as a young boy and man. His parents attended the Salem Evangelical Church and Sig attended with them. He was also part of the Sunday School in those early years. I remember Sig coming home to his parents house located near Westbrook Mall. My parents, Emil and Lilly Friess and us as kids would be playing and watching TV with Sig’s parents.
    Thank you Sig for being a hard worker like your Dad and having that generosity and love that has touched so many people. Thank you for inspiring others to make their dreams come true.
    We will continue to remember you.

    Harry Friess

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  4. Ron & Anne Allbright :

    Our deepest sympathy to the Gutsche family – Sig was a fine gentleman and we are sure he will be sorely missed.

    Ron & Anne Allbright

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  5. Brian Blackburn :

    I always had a lot of fun when with Sig …at Stamps games in the Owner’s box, at the Hard Rock Cafe, at Grey Cup games, at a boardroom table and at local establishments.
    His legacy of Saving the Stampeders is visually displayed on the Wall of Fame.
    My thoughts are with his family and friends.

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  6. Rebecca Caddauan :

    Gutsche Family,

    What a sad morning when I read on the newspaper of the untimely death of Mr. Seigfried Gutsche. Our prayers are with the entire family. I can never forget the family that gave me the opportunity to come here in Canada.
    Thank you for that warmth welcome and love. Your family is such a wonderful people that we truly adore. Our condolences.

    Love,
    Becky and Family

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  7. Sincere condolences to Shelagh, Kyla, Jeremy and families. My memories of Grey Cups past and all his enthusiasm wherever he was. May all the great memories help you through these trying times. He will be missed by all.
    Sincerely,
    Sam Fishman & Ruth Hiebert

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  8. Our heartfelt condolences to Sig’s family and friends. George and I met Sig during the Stampeder days and we’ll never forget his generosity and fine spirit. I am privileged to have known this wonderful man and will remember him fondly.

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  9. Jayne Sandilands :

    Sig was an inspiration. He always walked into the Hard Rock with smiles, open arms and made time for us all. He created a workplace that felt like home. We were proud, all felt we had purpose, took care of each other and strived to be the best we could be as individuals and as group of employees working with him. Many cherished friendships and memories made.

    He will be missed by the mulitude of lives he has touched. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

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  10. I met Sig when we were both elementary aged in about 1958 when we both lived in south west Calgary. I remember him as a gentle, caring good friend. He has done a great deal with his life and touched many people along the way.

    My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

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  11. Jo-Anne McLeod (Hoover) :

    My deepest condelences to Sig’s family, I am deeply saddened by his passing at such a young age. I worked for Sig from 1983 to 1991 (Kazana/Pima) and was there for some difficult times that hit the oil industry and Calgarians hard. Sig always made sure his employees were ok through this trying time. I always considered Sig not just a boss but a friend and it was my honor to have him as the master of ceremonies at my wedding where his quick wit kept the room laughing. We have lost touch over the years but I often think of the great memories we shared in those years. He will be sorely missed.

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  12. Sorry for your loss Helmut. Your brother was one of those rare people who make a big difference with their lives. Take care.

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  13. My sincerest condolences to Sig’s family. Sig came into my life in 1992…and left many fond memories of good and happy times. Through thick and thin Sig was the kind of guy that always stood by you and he truly believed in me as a good human being as I did of him. I’ll miss his positive attitude and I will always remember the smile on his face whenever we saw each other. I am so sad yet truly grateful for having Sig in my life. My deepest sympathy,
    Kim Dressler

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  14. It is rare to meet someone so generous. Sig defined the word. And he was a more-than-worthy chess adversary. Thanks for so many great memories.

    Shelagh, Kyla, and Jer . . . my thoughts are with you. Remembering a one-of-a-kind man.

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  15. I like so many was fortunate to have known Sig as a friend and as a member of the Canadian football fraternity. I have been blessed in my life to meet people that made a difference. Sig Gutsche is one such person. His tools are generosity, strength and compassion. A sport will only be as good as the people who devote their personal time to that sport’s betterment. By that yardstick, Canadian football is better today because of Sig Gutsche’s commitment over the years. Sig’s dedication and longstanding commitment to Canadian football are a rarity when compared to the selfishness and individualism so prominent in sports today. His support of the Calgary Sampeder Football Club and his spirit of giving has no boundaries. Few could only dream of traveling the Sig Gutsche road.

    Our sympathy and prayers are with the Gutsche family

    Your football family,
    Calgary Stampeder Football Club
    Stan Schwartz

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  16. Dear Shelagh and Family,
    Sincere condolences on Brother Sig’s untimely passing. Lots of memories come back from the Zeta Psi Fraternity days, including hair-raising rides in his little sports car, and reminding him frequently that Shelagh was like family and he had to treat her well. (She grew up down street from our house in Swift Current, SK.) I certainly remember as well that Sig’s mind never stopped working, and he was always looking for his next business venture.
    He has left a substantial legacy, through his business and philanthropic achievements, and most important through his commitment to family.
    Sincerely, in Tau Kappa Phi,
    Brother Frank Wright
    Grande Prairie AB

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  17. Our deepest condolences to the entire Gutsche family. Sig came into my life as the Owner of the Stampeders but quickly became a great friend over the next 12 years…You will be missed.
    The Kelloggs

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  18. So sorry for your loss Kyla. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Take care of each other.

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  19. Shelagh, Kyla and Jeremy and families,

    So sorry I am unable to attend the service and pay my respects. The community has lost a special influencer, and you have lost such a wonderful member of your family. My deepest condolences.

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  20. Dawn Blomme (Basler) :

    Kyla, I was deeply saddened by the news of your fathers passing. My heart felt condolences to you and your family.

    “What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes part of us.” -Helen Keller

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  21. Jeremy and the Gutsche Family,

    Jeremy, we’ve only just met in person. So, I’ve never met your father except through your willingness to share how he’s impacted your life and subsequently, how you’ve impacted others’ lives. That of course, now includes mine. My wife Lisa, and I have kept your family in our prayers since the moment we heard the sad news. We’re praying that in these unexpected and challenging times, you all are able to draw on the full store of memories and teachings of you Dad to be able to always feel that he’s with you.

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  22. Karen Allbright :

    Sig will be remembered with warmth and a genuine smile for all those he encountered. Heart felt Condolences to the Gutsche family and friends. You will be missed.

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  23. Sig has been a great friend and business associate who I have admired in many ways. There will never be another like Sig and I will miss him.

    Our sincerest condolences to the Gutsche family, whom Sig loved very much. Rest in peace, Sig. We will never forget you

    Bill, Karen, Rob and Ryan Howard.

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  24. Celeste Breland :

    Sincere condolences to Sig’s family & friends. Sig was a caring, generous and fun loving spirit, always looking for an adventure or a challenge. He will be sadly missed by all that knew him. I feel fortunate to have been a friend.

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  25. Don & Donna Brown :

    Helmut & Lorna,
    We were so sorry to hear of Sig’s passing. Even though we did not know him personally we certainly knew of him. Our thoughts and prayers are with you both and your family.
    Sincerely
    Don & Donna Brown

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  26. Dear Shelagh and family
    As time passes, gradually we move toward the day when the comfort of our memories is greater than the sorrow of our loss.

    My deep and sincere condolences to you and your family.

    Darlene Bolyea

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  27. Dear family,
    I went to high school with Sig & we dated for a short time. I remember going to his home & he always made me feel welcome. Since I lived in other places, I only found out later in life what a success he’d become. He was taken way too soon in life and I am so very sorry for your loss.
    Lois Lang (nee Bleakley)

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  28. Dolores Sawatsky :

    Dear Shelagh and family,
    My sincere condolences and deepest sympathy on the loss of this very special person. My thoughts are with you during this time of grief and wish you comfort and peace.
    Dolores Sawatsky

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  29. Dear Shelagh and Family:

    My most sincere condolences to you and your family.
    Melina Dayne
    Edmonton

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