Robert “Bob” Parker Sigman


Robert "Bob" Signman

Robert “Bob” Signman

Robert “Bob” Parker Sigman, 88, passed away peacefully on August 11, 2015, in Olathe, KS, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer.

The son of Ernest and Edith Sigman, Bob grew up on a farm in Johnson County, KS. Inspired by his parents’ example, he started reading the newspaper at an early age. At 10, he knew he wanted to work on a newspaper, and a few years later that he wanted to write editorials. Those aspirations led to a lifelong career in journalism, much of it at The Kansas City Star. He loved his colleagues and his work – though he often said he felt like he never worked a day in his life. He was admired for his work and deeply loved by his family and friends.

Bob was born May 29, 1927, just before the Great Depression and World War II. After attending public schools in Johnson County, he was drafted in May 1945 and served in Korea. Bob graduated from the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas in 1951. On June 28, 1953, he was united in marriage with Frances Marie Watts of Kansas City, MO. They shared 44 years together before her passing on November 28, 1997.

His career began at the Kansas City Kansan, but he was soon hired by The Star, starting there in 1954 as a general assignment reporter with an emphasis on politics. In 1965, he became a Missouri legislative correspondent and political writer, covering political campaigns on the county, state, congressional and national levels. He joined The Star’s editorial board in 1971 and for nearly 30 years his specialties were politics, government, the justice system and more.

After a brief retirement in 2001, Bob became the Opinion Page Editor at the Johnson County Sun until 2011, when it ceased publication. In 2012, he began a monthly column in The Star’s weekly 913 news magazine. He wrote his last column in July of 2015. In the words of one friend, he had a way of being persuasive without being offensive, and his dedication to public affairs in Kansas and Missouri made this area a better place.

The many awards he received honor his success as a champion of effective government and a fair justice system. In 1972, Bob won the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award for editorials on the problems in the criminal justice system and the need for penal reform. In 1984, he received the Emery A. Brownell award given by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association of Washington, D.C. The prize was based on his editorials opposing Reagan administration attempts to reduce legal services for the poor. He was honored by the American Political Science Association for distinguished reporting of public affairs in 1969, for coverage of Missouri’s declining fiscal condition. Bob was an expert on and advocate for nonpartisan court plans in Kansas and Missouri. In 1995 he was honored by the Supreme Court of Kansas for his editorials on the court system. In 1996 the Missouri Bar awarded him the “Excellence in Legal Journalism Award.”

When he retired from The Star in 2000, The Kansas State Senate passed Senate Resolution 1857 to honor him for his work as a “Crusader for Justice.” Over the years his editorials at The Star and The Sun won many awards from the Kansas Press Association and the Kansas City Press Club. In 2005, he won the Johnson County Community College Headline Award for his significant contributions to journalism in Johnson County. In 2010, he was named United Community Services Citizen of the Year for contributions that improved the lives of Johnson County residents.

Bob deeply appreciated the public education system and the education that he received at KU. He was a member of the William Allen White Foundation board and created the Robert P. Sigman Family Scholarship to assist students working toward a PhD in journalism at KU. He is a former president of the Kansas City Press Club and served on several boards, including the board of the Greater Kansas City Visitors Bureau.

As much as his friends and family admired his keen mind, they treasured his kindness, wit and humor even more. Everyone loved his stories about politics and the newspaper business. He enjoyed KU sports, especially basketball, and local history, jazz, theatre and art. A member of the Quaker faith, he loved gatherings with family in Kansas and North Carolina. He had a deep sense of gratitude for his life.

He is survived by two daughters, Anne O’Brien and her husband Paul of Silverdale, WA and Amy Sigman of Olympia, WA, one step-granddaughter and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

A visitation will be held Thursday, August 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Amos Family Funeral Home in Shawnee, at 10901 Johnson Drive (two blocks east of Nieman Rd). A celebration of life service will be held Saturday, August 29 at 11 a.m. at Unity Church of Overland Park, at 10300 Antioch Road.

Memorial contributions may be made to Kansas City Public Television (KCPT), the Robert P. Sigman Family Scholarship at KU or the choice of the contributor, in care of the Amos Family Funeral Home in Shawnee.

Arr. Amos Funeral Home

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