The Family Shoe Store was a mainstay in downtown Madison for decades. Owner Chic Siebenand, an outgoing entrepreneur and family man, moved from Arlington, Minn., in 1943 with wife Marie to start the business. He sold shoes to patrons from across the prairie until retiring in 1968.
Those who don’t remember him from the store may have known Chic as the Madison Mallards baseball team announcer, city council member, county bailiff, or from golf and bowling, activities he enjoyed into his 80s.
“I thought he knew everyone in the county,” daughter Mary Ann Kramer said. “And he probably did.”
That community connection has remained strong with all four of Chic and Marie’s children—Mary Ann, Kathryn, John and Charles—despite none of them living in Madison today. John has remained especially connected and supportive as a founder of the Madison Marietta Nassau Elementary School Fund and donor to the Madison Community Foundation, both partner funds of Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF).
It’s clear the siblings inherited a giving spirit from watching their parents. They described their mother as the “queen of hospitality,” opening their home to guests and delivering cakes to their neighboring Catholic nuns.
As for their father, “He never sold a pair of shoes without throwing in the box of polish,” daughter Kathryn Kulas said.
John recently encouraged his siblings to consider a gift to honor their late parents. The gift involved 116 acres of farmland Chic purchased when the children were young. Mary Ann remembers her father questioning that decision the day he signed for it. Youngest son Chuck remembers picking weeds because “Dad would want to make it look good” and pheasant hunting in the willows. The land was rented to local farmers who grew corn and flax.
“He put us all through college on this farm,” Kathryn said. “It was the best investment he ever made.”
Thanks to the family’s tremendous generosity, this farmland—which today is valued at about $900,000—will be reinvested for even more benefit. Through its partnership with SWIF, the Madison Community Foundation can accept gifts of real estate, like farmland, and provide flexibility on how the gift is structured.
The siblings’ attorney and SWIF worked together to set up a retained life estate. This unique giving option provided an immediate charitable tax deduction to all four siblings. They retain the right to continue using and receiving income from the property—which means they also continue paying property taxes on it—for as long as they live. Then, the farmland will become available to the Madison Community Foundation through SWIF’s Keep It Growing℠ program, and it will be sold as the siblings desire.
“My dad made his money in Madison, so we want to give back to Madison,” John said.
Cash proceeds from the future sale will be used to create the Siebenand Family Memorial Endowment Fund, a permanent fund from which grants will be awarded through the Madison Community Foundation, in the Siebenand family name and for the benefit of the Madison community.
“There are signs of people going the extra mile to keep Madison moving forward with dignity,” Cynthia Huse said. She led the efforts of the Madison Community Foundation over the years and worked with the Siebenand family on this and other gifts.
Going the extra mile is one way the siblings are living up to what Mary Ann hopes is their legacy—that people will say, “Chic must have raised those kids well.”