‘Cousin Willie,’ 74, dies
One of Harrison County’s most beloved personalities, Wilfred Edward Sieg Sr., 74, died Thursday, Feb. 2, 2006, at 2:40 a.m. at Harrison County Hospital in Corydon after a well-fought battle against lung cancer.
Known to most as ‘Cousin Willie,’ the president emeritus of Ramsey Popcorn Co. was known by people in many areas because of his active involvement with family, his faith, his business and community.
He was born March 16, 1931, in Ramsey, son of the late Edward and Agnes Gettelfinger Sieg. He is a member of St. Bernard Catholic Church in Frenchtown, where he has served on the Parish Council as well as past Picnic Chair. He was a Eucharistic minister and member of the Men’s CRHP Team. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus.
A graduate of Corydon Central High School, Sieg attended elementary school at Schoolhouse No. 6 (also known as Possum College) and held a 1953 degree in marketing from Indiana University in Bloomington. He was a member of Phi Kappa Fraternity, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and an Air Force Reserve until 1968. He returned to Ramsey to form the Ramsey Popcorn Co. with his parents and brothers.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, the former Doris Marie Byrum of Milltown, and their 13 children: Agnes Barnard and Suzanne Kaiser, both of Corydon, Wilfred Jr., Lisa Sieg, Veronica Battista and Jason Sieg, all of Ramsey, Laura Wood of Bakersfield, Calif., Michael Sieg of Jeffersonville, Angela Janes and Eric Sieg, both of New Salisbury, Anthony Sieg of Louisville, Sarah Meyer of Virginia Beach, Va., and John Paul Sieg of New Albany; a sister, Joan Seipel of Lanesville; 32 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.
‘With the Sieg family being a large part of Harrison County’s population,’ a family spokesperson said, ‘Willie felt it was his duty to see that everybody had some work to do.
‘The first jobs he gave his kids on the farm were picking up rock and cleaning out hog pens. That way, by the time they get to working at the popcorn plant, they like it just fine.’
Today, Ramsey Popcorn is one of the largest employers in the community. Edward Sieg and his wife, Agnes, began the business in 1944 going store to store selling raw popcorn items out of the back of their truck. Their four sons, Willie, Donald, Eugene and Mark, took over the business back in the 1960s.
Cousin Willie’s image is portrayed on the company’s largest selling retail product, ‘Cousin Willie’s Popcorn.’ Ramsey Popcorn has grown to be one of the top-four popcorn processors in the world.
The company has several labels that include ‘Cousin Willie’s’ Microwave and Original Gourmet Popcorn, ‘CAMPMASTERS’ Popcorn and ‘Purdu Pop’ Popcorn.
Willie was a member of the board of directors of the Popcorn Institute from 1978 to 1984. He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County and served in several capacities while a member.
Darrell Voelker, economic development director for the Chamber, said Sieg was a serious business man, though at times quite a jokester. ‘I consider him the most popular ambassador of Harrison County besides (the late governor) Frank O’Bannon.
‘In fact, I think Willie was probably a better recognized person than the governor,’ Voelker said. ‘Frank looked like a normal business man in a normal business suit; Willie would make you remember him.’
Willie served the community in a variety of ways. He was a member of the Ramsey Lions Club, a Rotarian, a lifelong member of the Republican Party and a Republican Precinct Committeeman. He was a member of the Ramsey-Spencer Grange and the Farm Bureau. He served on the Ramsey Water Co. board of directors for 24 years and on the North Harrison Community School board for 12 years. He was always a great fan of Cougar (and Lady Cats) sports.
The funeral was Monday, Feb. 6, at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Frenchtown. Swarens Funeral Home in Ramsey handled arrangements.