John R. Siemens Memorial Scholarship

John R. Siemens Memorial Scholarship

It’s safe to say that most people want to live a life that makes a difference. For John R. “Jack” Siemens, this was definitely true. Jack was an athletic director, and he made his mark on the CLC campus, as this story will explain.

Jack was married to Connie, a registered nurse, and they had four children, one of whom graduated from CLC (John Jr. ’73). Jack had been the athletics director at Westmont College in Santa Barbara before relocating to Thousand Oaks to accept a position as CLC’s second director of athletics in 1963. The family quickly became involved at Ascension Lutheran Church. On the job at CLC, Jack brought his Christian faith to work with him every day. He demonstrated Christian stewardship early on, when he signed up to make a regular gift to the college through payroll deduction even before he was asked! That was a clear indication of Christian stewardship.

As athletic director Jack made his mark professionally from the very start. He was well liked by the entire coaching staff, and he was also respected by the staff of the Dallas Cowboys, who then used CLC’s facilities for their summer practice season. It was a shock to the entire community when Jack passed away in 1969 at age 50. As Tex Schramm of the Dallas Cowboys said about his friend, “Jack was the difference between success and mediocrity.”

At Jack’s memorial service, President Ray Olson spoke of the scholarship to be created in Jack’s honor. President Olson highlighted two specific qualities in Jack’s life and service to CLC—his commitment to Christian higher education and his interest in the individual student. Jim Brann, sports writer for the News Chronicle, gave Jack a similar tribute when he wrote, “Every single person I know who knew Jack liked, loved and respected him.” Jack had been frequently sought out as a counselor because the students loved and trusted him. He was really a person who made a difference in his life.

Many memorial gifts from family, colleagues and friends created the scholarship that today bears Jack’s name. Initially, the John R. Siemens Memorial Scholarship was designed for student athletes in good standing. When CLU joined NCAA Division III in 1988, athletic scholarships were no longer allowed under NCAA rules. At that time, Jack’s widow Connie changed the award criteria to benefit fifth-year students working on either elementary or secondary teaching credentials. It was the family’s hope that those teachers-to-be would someday, in Jack’s memory, also make a difference.