Philip E. Sieber
August 29, 1935 ~ October 1, 2020
Phil Sieber, a former Monticello resident who built a highly successful career in land-use planning, died October 1 at his home in Littleton, CO, from lung cancer and COPD. He was 85.
When asked to sum up his life, Phil said, “I’ve had an ordinary life that I’ve lived exceptionally well.” His family and friends agree.
Born August 29, 1935 in Moab, Phil and his family soon moved to Monticello, which he was proud to call home. Growing up, Phil helped his mother, Hortense Sieber, at her popular Hyland Café.
He talked fondly of the strong friendships he formed in boyhood. When Phil and a Colorado friend visited Monticello in 2018, Phil delighted in showing off the town and his friends.
Lifelong friend Ked Somerville took them to visit Bears Ears National Monument, one of the many places on Phil’s bucket list.
After graduating from Monticello High School in 1954, Phil joined the Air Force where he helped monitor Russian troop movements from 1955 to 1957.
In 1962, he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and anthropology from the University of Utah. Phil remained a diehard Utes sports fan. He went to the PAC-12 championship in California last December and also saw Utah upset Stanford in 2013.
Phil’s career took him across the country. With wife, Martha Wilson, he became the director of the Portland (Maine) Planning Commission. Their daughter, Alicia Christine, was born there June 11, 1970. The family later moved to Mankato, MN, where Phil became planning director. His work there to establish a zoning process, still in use today, was noted in an article in The New York Times. He earned a master’s degree at the University of Minnesota.
Phil yearned to return to the West, and in 1980 he became the planning director for Arapahoe County, Colorado. During his 13 years there, Phil helped develop environmental land-use policies and procedures by encouraging mutual cooperation between the private developers and county officials.
He was twice elected president of the National Association of County Planners and published numerous articles about planning, some of which are in the Library of Congress.
In 1985, after his divorce, Phil met Marlu Burkamp. For the past 35 years, they lived and traveled together.
Phil opened a consulting business in 1996, helping communities throughout the Denver metro area with planning issues for the next seven years. He retired at age 68, but was bored. For several years, he volunteered for LifeRing, an organization dedicated to promoting addiction recovery.
Planning called him back. From 1997 to 2007 and again from 2012 until his death, Phil was the planning director for Columbine Valley, a Denver suburb.
He helped guide the town through several master plans and the contentious development of a 105-acre farm.
Phil is survived by his daughter Alicia; former wife Martha Wilson; stepbrother Jack Leetham; companion Marlu Burkamp; her daughters Eileen McCaslin, Carolyn Bignell, and Cheri Jones; and grandchildren Laurel Babst, Alex Turner, Maddie Jones, and Jake Jones.
Phil’s ashes will be buried at the Monticello Cemetery October 26 at 1:30 p.m. followed by a small reception for family and friends.