Marlin Elwood “Si” Sibell, best known for his signature sign-painting skills and for serving as “The coolest mayor Monument ever had,” died Dec. 11 at age 90 following a brief illness.
Family and friends remember Si as a man whose heart knew no strangers, but only friends he hadn’t met. His son, Brian, described his dad as a caring man who went out of his way to help people in need. “Dad was the go-to person for many people and would help as best he could. He even once helped set up a trailer for a gentleman who had no place to live,” Brian said.
Born April 24, 1928, on an Osakis, Minn., farm near the town of Nelson, Si developed a strong work ethic at a young age. He attended West Central School of Agriculture in Morris, Minn., to learn blacksmithing and later worked a variety of jobs ranging from cattle ranch cowboy and caretaker of an Alexandria, Minn., resort to serving with the Idaho Forestry Service.
In 1950, Si joined the U.S. Army, but later separated with what he called the “Rank of Misplaced Civilian.” Upon his return home, Si landed an outdoor advertising job with Burma Shave.
While living in Minnesota, Si met Dorothy Ann Bean, whom he married on March 6, 1954. The couple relocated to Arizona where Si pursued his outdoor advertising career. After working several signage jobs, he found employment building and painting signs for the Stuckey’s Candy Corp., a U.S. highway roadside convenience store chain.
The Sibells relocated to Colorado and Si found work as a welder, boiler marker and in power plants. He painted signs for local businesses and later landed a Monument sign business still in operation today.
During his down time, Si loved fishing and hunting, often in the Alaskan and Canadian outback and throughout the western United States. He also loved horses and bought his favorite horse, Baron, for $50 in the late 1960s. Si cared for Baron almost four decades until the horse’s declining health prompted his master to put him down.
Ever creative, Si loved played pranks, was an accomplished story teller and artist whose paintings and welded art take up residence in family members’ homes.
As mayor, accessibility was Si’s greatest contribution to the Town of Monument. This approachable, self-effacing leader valued and incorporated community feedback into his decisions, earning him the title, “The coolest mayor Monument ever had.”
Always seeking new frontiers to pioneer, Si founded the Monument Chapter of The Bigots Club, served as board member of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and as captain and a volunteer firefighter for the Monument Fire Department.
“He was the last of the cowboys, truly one in a million and will be sorely missed,” said friend Richard Willan. Long-time friend Bill Simpson described Si as “an absolutely wonderful person with a great story to tell.”
Charlie Searle has known the Sibells since the mid-1980s. He said the Sibell family insisted the scheduled Dec. 15 Christmas hoedown in the Sibells’ barn be held as planned and be dedicated to the patriarch.
“The show, just four days after his passing, served as a de facto celebration of Si’s life and his legacy,” Searle said. “The gathering of friends under his barn roof couldn’t have been more appropriate. Si’s legacy will outlive all of us.”
Si is preceded in death by his parents, Jesse William Sibell and Lillie Bell (Young); brothers, Arthur, Sheldon and Gerald; sister, Margaret Kallstrom, and son-in-law, James Vawter.
He is survived by his wife, Dorothy; children, Barbara (Mark) Youngwirth, Brian (Karen), Brenda (James) Vawter, Beverly (Roger) Rathburn, Bruce (Becky); sisters, Janice (Henry) Finch and Donna Myers; brother, Gary; eight grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. Contributions can be made to Wounded Warrior USA, woundedwarriorusa.com.
A celebration of life is set for 2 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Grace Best Education Center, 66 Jefferson Street, in Monument.