He was born in Sedalia, Missouri, on March 29, 1939. His favorite boyhood memories were of working and playing on his uncles’ farms outside Sedalia. With the help of an inspiring teacher, he discovered a talent for math and became the first in his family to attend college. Ultimately, he earned a B.S. in physics at the University of Missouri at Rolla, an M.S. in physics at Oklahoma State University, and a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from the University of Kansas in 1972. He also completed advanced courses at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and Kirtland U.S. Air Force Base in Albuquerque.
Early in his career, he worked as a nuclear engineer at the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission’s Space Nuclear Propulsion Office in Jackass Flatts, Nevada. He later taught physics at Fort Hays Kansas State University, Cowley County Community College, and Northern Oklahoma College.
In 1977, he and his family moved to Amarillo, Texas. At the Department of Energy’s Pantex nuclear weapons plant, he became one of the world’s leading authorities on the practical aspects of gamma spectrometry and safeguards verification for nuclear weapons. For decades, he was also the technical lead on neutron radiography. He led major upgrades of the Van de Graaff accelerator-based systems and the installation of a new neutron radiography facility – a system that produced some of the best neutron radiographs in the country.
Throughout his life, he was an active member of Christ Lutheran Church, serving as president and elder, playing violin, and singing in the choir. He played fiddle in pick-up bluegrass groups and was passionate about Southern gospel music. An avid sports fan and proud grandpa, he logged many miles cheering on his talented granddaughters at games and meets. And he kept up his farming roots by working the family’s acreage north of Amarillo: keeping horses and cattle, gardening, and clearing land.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Virginia (Pickett); son Joel Sievers and wife Traci of Portales, NM; daughter Julie Sievers and husband Matthew Bramble of Georgetown, TX; sister Carolyn Anderson of Lee’s Summit, MO; and five grandchildren: Jenna Sievers, Jaci Sievers, and Kami Sievers of Portales, NM, and Owen Sievers Bramble and Kali Bramble of Georgetown, TX. He is preceded in death by his parents, Carl and Helen Sievers.
Celebration of Life Service
Trinity Lutheran Church
5005 W. I-40
Amarillo, TX 79106
Saturday, June 24, 2017