Mark R. Seiler, age 73, died on Monday, December 14, 2015 at Saint Michael’s Hospital in Stevens Point.
Mark was born April 30, 1942 in La Crosse, Wis., son of Carl A. Seiler and Alice M. Fortney. As a high school student in La Crosse, he was an American Field Service summer exchange student to Germany, an experience which set him on his career path. He graduated from University of Wisconsin Madison with a major in German and minor in History. When pursuing a Ph. D. in Madison, he spent an academic year studying in Bonn, Germany.
After his return, he married a fellow student in the program, Jan Jopling, on August 30, 1969, and they both began teaching German at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point that fall.
Mark was a professor of German at UWSP for 35 years until retiring in 2004 and served for over 10 years as the Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages. During his tenure at UWSP he won grants to support 10 summer German institutes designed to help high school German teachers improve their language skills, cultural knowledge and pedagogical approaches. In recognition of his work with teachers, he was awarded the Wisconsin Association of Foreign Language Teachers’ Distinguished Foreign Language Educator award in 2001. He was also awarded UWSP’s faculty service award for his leadership in faculty governance and on numerous faculty committees. In support of UWSP’s study abroad program in Germany, Mark shepherded many student groups to Magdeburg, Germany, orienting them and getting them settled in for their study abroad experience.
Music was also an interest he pursued avidly. For many years Mark sang in choirs, including 40 years in the the Trinity Lutheran Church choir and in the Monteverdi Chorale. He served on the boards of a number of community organizations including the Monteverdi Chorale, the Portage County Cultural Festival, Portage County Historical Society, and UWSP’s Historic Preservation Committee. He also served on the Trinity Luthern Church Council. After his retirement in 2004, Mark devoted himself to research in local history, writing a book The Jewish Community of Stevens Point, and serving as summer curator of the Historical Society’s Beth Israel Museum.
He was also very active in UWSP’s LIFE (learning in retirement) program, serving as President and on the Curriculum Committee for over 10 years. He presented a LIFE number of classes on local history and hosted many more, often serving as the unofficial technology guru for guest presenters.
Mark is survived by his wife Jan, daughter Gretchen Seiler (Keith) Firkus of Stevens Point, and son Andrew Mark (Nicole) Seiler of Milwaukee, his brother David (Linda) of New Hampshire and nieces Megan Cohen and Katie Seiler of Boston.
The Funeral Service will be on Saturday, December 19 at 10:00 am at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1410 Rogers Street, in Stevens Point, with visitation from 9 am until the time of service on Saturday, and from 4-7 pm on Friday, December 18 at Boston Funeral Home, 1649 Briggs Street.
Memorials may be made to the Seiler Scholarship Fund at the UWSP Foundation or to the Beth Israel Museum through the Portage County Historical Society.