Robert M. Seibert, 89, lawyer and World War II vet

Robert M. Seibert, later a Delaware County lawyer, parachuted during the World War II invasion of Sicily with more materials than he had when he left the plane.

"His parachute had no sooner opened than a heavy object landed on top of it," the Evening Bulletin reported in 1943.

"The object turned out to be a box of land mines dropped with a 'chute attached by a preceding plane."

On Wednesday, July 21, Mr. Seibert, 89, died of renal failure at the Quadrangle in Haverford, where he had gone for physical therapy.

He had lived in Lansdowne for 46 years.

Mr. Seibert was with troops who parachuted over the town of Scoglitti just before the land invasion, on July 10, 1943.

"Seibert's 'chute collapsed from the weight of the mines and for about 700 feet [he], his 'chute, the box of explosives and its 'chute hurtled toward earth hopelessly tangled," the Bulletin reported.

"To make it worse, the box struck Seibert on the head, almost jarring him unconscious."

"Getting closer and closer to earth, Seibert finally managed to unsnarl himself, free the tangled lines and re-open the 'chute with little space to spare."

There was no one lifesaving trick.

"I thought pretty fast for a time," he told the reporter. "But I wasn't thinking any faster than I was dropping.

"The snarl came undone just in time. . . . I landed pretty hard, but alive."

A 1943 Inquirer article reported that he had earned the Silver Star Medal "for conspicuous gallantry as a naval gunfire liaison officer" during the Sicily invasion.

In 1950, he was elected commander of the Hunting Park Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Seibert graduated from Olney High School in 1938, earned a pre-law bachelor's degree at Temple University before enlisting, and later earned his law degree at the University of Wisconsin.

Daughter Marty Hoover recalled that as an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Delaware County district attorney in the 1950s, "he carried me around, door-to-door, campaigning."

One of his proudest accomplishments, Hoover said, was that he worked "to create a charter" for the Nile Swim Club in Yeadon.

The club's website explains that "in 1958, when two African American families applied for membership to the racially exclusive Yeadon Swim Club, club management stonewalled the applicants, indicated that their paperwork had become lost, and refused to admit them as guests or members of the facility.

"In response, Yeadon's African American community solidified and decided to build its own private swim club."

On Sept. 30, 1958, "organizers in Yeadon's African American community established a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation called the Nile Swim Club of Yeadon."

As a real estate lawyer, Mr. Seibert was a member of the Trust Counselors Network.

Besides his daughter, Mr. Seibert is survived by a sister and two grandsons. He was predeceased by wives Sarah and Betty.

A memorial was set for 11 a.m. Saturday, July 31, at Lansdowne Friends Meeting, 120 N. Lansdowne Ave.


Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or at wnaedele@phillynews.com.