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Millie Siegel remembered for her love of arts and people

June 1, 2018 GMT

DANBURY — Those who knew Mildred “Millie” Siegel said she will be remembered as much for her unparalleled passion for the arts as she will for her kind spirit.

Siegel, a former News-Times reporter, died this week. She was 93.

A champion of the arts during her 50 years in the Danbury area, Siegel was coordinator for the Danbury Cultural Commission until three years ago. She was also a founding member of the Richter Association for the Arts and a member of the Flyboys Club, a visual arts collective.

Her son, Joseph, said Siegel’s abilities on the piano, as a singer and as an award-winning painter inspired him and his sister to grow up with a passion for the arts of their own.

“She was a cultural icon in the purist sense of both words,” Joseph said. “Our family are all artists and musicians in one way or another — that’s all from her.”

He said Siegel “embraced life to the fullest in all aspects” outside of the arts, too, including her lifelong love of travel, food, the beach, the outdoors and, most of all, people.

“Everybody loved her,” he said. “She lived for people and her happiest moments were when she was interacting with people.”

Harvey Center, who worked with Siegel on the Cultural Commission for 35 years, said this was true in her job as coordinator for the organization. Siegel was in charge of outreach, managing finances and putting out monthly brochures listing events in the area.

Siegel and her husband, Mort, could always be found at these events as patrons, too, Center said. The couple would both write reviews of plays for the News-Times, where Millie also covered everything from court cases to obituaries, Joseph Siegel said.

“She and Mort would be late to one concert because they were coming from another,” said Barbara Adams Jaeger, executive director of the Danbury Music Centre.

Jaeger said she used to call Siegel “the grand dame of Danbury” for her active role in the city.

Those who knew her said Siegel was consistently genuine and kind to everyone. Mayor Mark Boughton said she was one of the most compassionate people he has ever met.

“She was such an active and engaged volunteer around the arts and culture activities in the city and a wonderful, gracious lady,” Boughton said. “We’re going to miss her here in Danbury.”

The Music Centre’s former executive director, Nancy Sudik, who worked with Siegel for 30 years, said she was nervous the first time she met her because she had always been impressed by Siegel’s accomplishments.

“I thought she was going to be a formidable woman, but Millie Siegel was the most gentle woman you could ever meet,” Sudik said. “After the very first day I met her, I grew to love her. I would always think I’d like to mature into someone just like her.”

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the United Jewish Center with a burial at the center’s cemetery. The family will receive friends at the center after 12 p.m. on Sunday.