We express deep appreciation to Jon and Sue Sias for their substantial contribution towards the 2022 Youth Meeting we will be hosting, as well as bequeathing a portion of their estate to CISV Maine, in Honor and Memory of their son Jeff, who was an active youth in our chapter in the 1990s. I asked Jon and Sue to write about Jeff and send some photos to share with our community. We express deep condolences and gratitude to the family. Please join me in viewing the photos of Jeff in his CISV experiences and reading this special tribute: (click on images to view larger)
Jeff Sias (1981—2003) always loved to travel; we used to jokingly wonder, if the word “go” were uttered in the home, who would be at the door first, Jeff or his dog, Toby. As a family, we camped throughout New England and traveled around America on summer vacations. Up to and including his time at Frontier Airline at the time of his passing, the love of travel adventure was a core element throughout his altogether too short life; surely, the song “Leaving on a Jet Plane” could have been the soundtrack of his life.
From an early age we encouraged Jeff to think critically; as such Dr. Doris Twitchell Allen’s original premise resonated with us and him – not to mention the opportunity for him to travel to places he had never been. He would comment years later how meeting Doris Twitchell Allen was a true highlight of his CISV experience (see attached photo, approx date 1996). His very first CISV adventure, as an 11-year-old, would take him to a Village in Brussels, Belgium…and he was never the same. Over the years he would often warmly recall the lingering memories of that trip – his new international friends, the variety of languages and of course his favorite sculpture – the Manneken Pis. He came home from Brussels and was in tears almost daily for months from missing some of the young people he had met. Like many of you reading this, we ultimately discovered this was a wholly universal reaction.
In hindsight, we believe, given the chance, Jeff would have gladly remained a 15- or 16-years old, spending every summer traveling with CISV around the US and internationally meeting other young people, learning about their cultures, and honoring the principles Doris Twitchell Allen preached. In another life, he might have become a 21st century Vasco da Gama, his favorite explorer and jocular answer to many a Jeopardy clue. In addition to his Village experience, Jeff did other programs with CISV, and was an active Junior Branch board member, rising to Junior Branch president from 1995 to 1997. Sue and I served on the Maine chapter´s adult board for some years, Sue as Seminar chair and I as Risk Manager.
As exciting as the travel was, Jeff, as well as Sue and I, also recognized there was a greater import to the work of CISV. Doris Twitchell Allen always hoped and believed that one day veterans of Summer Villages would meet again on a larger stage and that shared Village experience would pave the way for a crisis de-escalation or a redoubling of effort to achieve a compromise. With Jeff’s untimely passing, we were presented a unique opportunity to support and endow the short-term travel excitement and long-range global community building of CISV. We are indebted to CISV and honored to bequeath a portion of our estate to such a worthwhile organization.
Sincerely, Jon and Sue Sias
More images from Jeff’s Village experience in Belgium (click to see larger images):