John F. Sigmund Sr., 84, formerly of Wyndmoor, an accomplished financial adviser for Lincoln Investment Planning, and a creator of two educational scholarships named in memory of his daughter, Johanna, who was killed in the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, died Tuesday, Sept. 14, of complications after cardiac arrest at Abington Hospital.
Known for his energy and enthusiasm, optimism and curiosity, Mr. Sigmund was a larger-than-life figure for his family. He also played a big role for many others when he responded to his daughter’s death by helping to create the Johanna Louise Sigmund ‘94 Scholarship Fund for her high school, Springside, now Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and the Johanna Sigmund Memorial Fund for St. Malachy Catholic School.
“He wanted good to come from evil,” said his son, John Jr.
The Springside scholarship goes to a student with “demonstrated need who exemplifies the gifts of spirit, enthusiasm, athletic leadership, and compassion for others.” The family said it has raised more than $700,000 from more than 2,200 donors, and has funded at least one scholarship a year since 2003.
Mr. Sigmund’s efforts also inspired friends to create a “Run for Johanna” fund-raiser that has raised nearly $500,000 for scholarships to St. Malachy.
“My father believed an education was one of the greatest gifts you could give, and Johanna’s memory has lived on in the lives of dozens of young scholars,” his son said.
In a 2004 profile written for a Lincoln Investment Planning newsletter, Mr. Sigmund explained his actions this way: “We have learned that we can only move forward. … We still believe that good ultimately outweighs the evil that is present in this life.”
One person wrote in a Facebook tribute that Mr. Sigmund “embodied the joy and curiosity and love that so many of us strive for in our own lives.”
Born Sept. 21, 1936, Mr. Sigmund grew up in Wyncote, and played baseball and touch football with future Baseball Hall of Fame star Reggie Jackson. He went to Immaculate Conception School in Jenkintown, caught the train every day to attend St. Joseph’s Prep, and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1958.
He worked financial jobs in Washington and Patterson, N.J., for 10 years, then joined Lincoln Investment Planning in 1968. He went on to become one of the company’s top performers as a financial adviser for nonprofits, working one-on-one mostly with doctors, nurses, and teachers, and was inducted into the firm’s hall of fame in 1998.
Mr. Sigmund met Ruth Behringer at a college graduation party, and they married in 1970. They lived in Chestnut Hill, Wyndmoor, and Blue Bell. “He was interested in everything, and had an easy way with people,” his wife said. “He was a very positive person.”
Mr. Sigmund was a talker and natural salesman. Never afraid to ask for directions when he traveled, he liked to pick restaurants by quizzing its outdoor diners about their meals, arrive late and leave early at Phillies games, and send interesting newspaper clippings to his son.
He played tennis and squash at the Germantown Cricket Club and Philadelphia Cricket Club, and was not shy at giving athletic advice, earning the nickname “Tips Galore” from his children.
A practicing Catholic, he liked variety in his spiritual life, and attended services at Our Mother Consolation Church in Chestnut Hill, St. Malachy’s Church in North Philadelphia, and St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Ambler.
“He taught me to be open to people,” his son said. “He was, as he liked to say, fearlessly friendly.”
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Sigmund is survived by two sisters, one brother, and other relatives. A sister and brother died earlier.
Services were Sept. 25.
Donations in his name may be made to St. Joseph Preparatory School, 1733 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19130.