BUCKFIELD — Robert William “Bob” Siekman, an organic chemist and chemistry teacher, died at his home in Buckfield on Friday, Oct. 5, at age 74, following a long illness. The cause was pulmonary fibrosis.
He was born in South Bend, Ind., Jan. 13, 1938. He graduated from South Bend Central High School in 1956, and from the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. In 1965, he earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he then worked as a post doctoral fellow. In 1966, he joined the faculty of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University as assistant professor of organic chemistry. He later served as Carnegie Mellon’s dean of freshmen and as director of admissions.
Drawn by a deep attachment to Maine’s people and natural beauty, Bob and his wife, Margot moved in 1973 to Hebron, where they taught at Hebron Academy. During the 1990s, he worked as an organic chemist at the Foundation for Blood Research in Scarborough and at Binax Inc. in Portland, before forming his own consultancy, Synthetic Colloids LLC.
One of Bob’s greatest sources of pride was the building with his own hands of the family home in Buckfield. It was at this property on Bear Pond Road that he dedicated great energy and derived great pleasure from pursuits such as gardening, cultivating highbush blueberries, haying from the fields surrounding the house and building and operating a small sawmill.
He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Margot Siekman (nee Butterfield); daughter, Elizabeth “Betsy” Graves of Portland; son, Robert Matthew “Matt” Siekman and his partner, Andrea Bento, of Portland; son, Daniel McNeil Siekman of Beijing, China; sister and brother-in-law, Ann Siekman and Roger Crockett of Hebron; sister and brother-in-law, Jane and Phillip Spencer of Cassopolis, Mich.; and two grandchildren, Jackson and Benjamin.