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.Print This Obituary & Condolences