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James Sieling, MTA union official and Bainbridge volunteer, dies

James Sieling, MTA union official and Bainbridge volunteer, dies
James Herbert Sieling Sr. was devoted to the Navy and its traditions. (HANDOUT)

James Herbert Sieling Sr, a retired Maryland Transit Administration union official active in the Bainbridge Naval Training Center Historical Association, died of heart disease April 8 at Harford Memorial Hospital. The Rising Sun resident, who formerly lived in Dundalk, was 79.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Cambridge Street in Canton, he was the son of Bill Cumberland and his wife, Rose Petty. He attended Patterson High School and worked briefly at the old News American. He joined the Navy and served from 1957 to 1963 as an aviation ordnance first class petty officer aboard the USS Constellation and the USS Saratoga.

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After his military service, he earned an associate’s degree at the old Dundalk Community College. He joined the old Baltimore Transit Co. and drove buses. In 1977 he was elected president of the Amalgamated Transit Union and retired as a supervisor from what became the Maryland Transit Administration. He served at the MTA’s Bush Street and Kirk Avenue divisions.

After living in Dundalk and moving to Rising Sun, he became a Bainbridge Naval Training Center Historical Society Museum volunteer and board member. He also enjoyed bartending and catering.

“My father began his military service at Bainbridge, and it meant a great deal to him to help preserve the history and experiences of the men and women who served in the Navy,” said his daughter, Susan Potyraj of Dundalk. “Jim will be remembered for his huge heart, quick smile and booming laugh.”

Mr. Sieling worked on the museum’s collection and preservation of its memorabilia. The family has established a memorial fund at the Bainbridge Naval Training Center Historical Association in his name.

A celebration of life will be held on from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Connelly Funeral Home of Dundalk, 7110 Sollers Point Road.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of more than 55 years, Norma Robinson, a retired Acme markets supervisor; another daughter, Anna Gibson of Parkville; two sons, James Sieling Jr. of Whitehall and James Daniel Sieling of Dundalk; five brothers, Charles “Tom” Sieling of Dundalk, Frank Sieling of Killeen,Texas, Robert Cumberland of Dundalk. David Cumberland of Essex and Bernie Cumberland of Dundalk; three sisters, Shirley Chavis and Mary Kay Cumberland, both of Dundalk, and Marilyn Holmes of Winchester, Va.; 15 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

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