Joshua Christian Siems, a learning and development manager who performed at a Baltimore Center Stage production, died of heart failure Friday at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in the District of Columbia. The former Homeland resident was 31.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Homeland, he was the son of Robert L. “Bob” Siems, an attorney, and Caryl Garland Siems, a senior move manager.
He was part of a close family and was inseparable from his twin, William “Billy” Siems, and sister, Laney Siems.
Mr. Siems was a 2010 Gilman School graduate and earned a political science degree at Dickinson College. He belonged to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and performed in the college’s drama productions.
“We called him the ‘dark horse’ because he had these hidden qualities,” said Derek Kachadurian, a friend. “He was someone you wanted to talk to when you needed a shoulder to lean on. He had a strong emotional intelligence and was one of the most supportive friends you could ask for.”
At Gilman, he played varsity volleyball and was active in the drama program. He played the role of Sky Masterson in the musical “Guys and Dolls.”
John E. Schmick, Gilman’s former headmaster said: “Joshua was a wonderful citizen of the school. He and his twin brother, Billy, were both actors and had excellent senses of humor. He was kind and considerate.”
Karin Chriss, a family friend, said: “Josh connected with more people in his 31 years than a hundred people connect with in a lifetime. Josh was bigger than life. ... He was so polite, so engaging and so very special.”
When he was 10 years old, he played the role of John in “Peter Pan” at Baltimore Center Stage. He performed alongside actor Jefferson Mays, andattached to a harness, and flew over the stage and the audience.
He also performed at the Pumpkin Theatre and later appeared at Theatre Hopkins and the Hannah More Arts Center in Stevenson.
When he performed in “Tom Sawyer,” Baltimore Sun critic J. Wynn Rousuck said: “In the title role, curly-haired Josh Siems brings a countrified vibrato to catchy tunes.”
Mr. Siems was interested in politics as a college student. He worked on Anthony Brown’s campaign for Maryland governor in 2014.
“He worked in communications, but he also put up a lot of signs,” said his mother, Caryl. “It was exhausting work and he loved it. He dedicated a lot of time traveling the state. When he did come home, he would get the family involved with assembling signs and campaign materials.”
After Mr. Brown’s defeat, Mr. Siems volunteered on the mayoral campaign of David Warnock.
As a 22-year-old, he lived in Federal Hill on Battery Avenue and co-hosted events for Mr. Warnock.
Mr. Siems began his professional career working for the Westwicke Partners, a Quarry Lake investor relations firm. He later moved to Chicago’s TransPerfect and worked in the field of translation and languages.
Mr. Siems was an avid sports fan.
“He loved his time living in Chicago,” his mother said. “He found a Ravens bar and he enjoyed going to Wrigley Field. He was not only a fan, he had a firm grasp of sports stats and strategy.”
Mr. Siems decided to leave Chicago and returned to Baltimore. He joined the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s government relations department.
He commuted to Annapolis during the General Assembly and to Washington to coordinate events with the National Restaurant Association.
“He liked the interface of government and industry,” his mother said. “He was a wonderful public speaker and he could talk to anybody.”
Mr. Siems then joined the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Maryland after doing years of volunteer work for the organization.
He worked in Cockeysville and coordinated events. He helped stage its annual fundraisers, Feastival at the Sandlot in Harbor Point and Passion for Food, Wine at the Four Seasons, and the tent at the Grand National Steeplechase in Butler.
“He was doing this volunteer work in support of his sister, Laney,” his mother said.
“I was diagnosed with CF when I was 5 months old and he worked all his life 100 percent to find a cure,” his sister said..
Mr. Siems often said Laney and her courage were his life’s inspiration.
He moved into the field of corporate training and relocated to Washington. He worked for Freedom Mortgage and ZoomInfo. He trained employees in how to process mortgage applications and later taught workers how to use marketing software.
Mr. Siems was a baritone. He belonged to the Traveling Men at Gilman and sang in college. Among his favorite musicals was “Into the Woods.”
The Morning Sun
“You could hear his laugh wherever you were. He was a bright light in my life — and in the life of anyone he met,” said a family friend, Posey Obrecht. “He could make you laugh, and he loved talking and was ready to be your friend.”
“As much as he liked singing, he admired and was enthusiastic about other people’s talents. He never thought he was the brightest light in the room, even when he was,” said his mother.
An accomplished dancer, Mr. Siems was a regular at the Hunt Ball and attended Maryland’s springtime timber races. He was among the first on the dance floor at weddings and was known as a convivial guest at parties he attended.
He was a fan of thoroughbred racing and enjoyed trips to Timonium and Saratoga Springs, New York.
“A party got started when he entered a room,” his mother said.
A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 28 at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer at 5603 N. Charles St.
Survivors include his parents, Robert and Caryl Siems of Baltimore; a twin brother, William “Billy” Siems of Austin, Texas; a sister, Laney Siems of Baltimore; his maternal grandfather, Bill Garland of Relay; a step-grandmother, Cathy Garland, also of Relay; and his girlfriend, Melanie Yates.