Westerville News & Public Opinion

Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame

Shutterbug in spotlight

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When Floyd Siebert was told he was being nominated for the Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, the moment presented a microcosm of his 83 years.

Siebert and others at the Westerville Senior Center were trying to determine who to nominate, and he hadn't even considered being nominated himself.

"We were considering nominating someone else from the center," Siebert said. "But they said, 'Nope, we're nominating you.' "

After making his career from behind-the-scenes, it's no surprise Siebert hadn't thought of giving attention to himself.

The former Boy Scouts of America executive spent most of his life recruiting others into the organization, and likes to say he's been a Boy Scout for more than 70 years.

When he and his wife, Iona, retired to Westerville in 1999, Siebert used his talents for organization and fundraising at the Senior Center, where he began by spending five years organizing a slowly forming computer lab.

In 2001, he began his newfound fascination with Photoshop, a photograph manipulation software, when his daughter asked him to help her with a project collecting old family photos.

Siebert said he couldn't find anyone good at touching up the old black and white photos, so he taught himself with a copy of Photoshop LE, the basic version of the program.

Soon, Siebert was coordinating Photoshop lessons and workshops at the Senior Center, using the limited technology it had available.

He taught all the Photoshop he could, and tried to bring in others to teach programs he didn't know.

Siebert said he "learned the hard way" it was important to find others who knew things he didn't, rather than teaching himself everything.

"I promised everyone that we would do spreadsheets, but we couldn't find someone to teach the class," he said. "So I had to teach myself, and that is slow work."

Since then, he and the Senior Center have adopted the policy of shared knowledge.

"If you have a skill, we ask you to share that with others," he said. "We're not asking you to go out and learn something new. What you know is what you share."

Siebert bought his first digital camera in 2004, but a year later, his full-time role became caregiver for his wife who was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

He was left with little time to volunteer, but honed his photography skills in his backyard, cultivating his love for nature photography.

"I claim I'm more of a nature photographer than a people photographer," he laughed. "I've never had a snake decline to do a pose for me."

When Iona died in 2009, Floyd returned to the center, where he began organizing photo classes and workshops for the other seniors.

Now, Siebert and other instructors teach everything from software to photography. There are classes to prepare for taking Fourth of July firework shots, workshops about how to be smart when buying a camera and classes to teach the importance of lighting.

"The real satisfaction comes when someone gets to one of those, 'A-ha' moments," Siebert said.

Last week, Siebert and 14 other honorees were inducted into the Hall of Fame at a ceremony in the Martin Janis Center in Columbus. It was an experience he called "humbling."

"I admire those honorees," Siebert said.

"Just about all those people deal with basic services like food or medicine or housing.

"I've been blessed to work in the 'value added' side of things," he said.

"I just feel we need to deal more with not just the basics. We should be able to help people do the things they want to do."

Siebert, who said he has never felt comfortable in the spotlight, said he believed he belonged among those honorees, but knew there was a difference in their work.

"I feel I have a place," he said, "but at the same time, those basics have to come first.

"If you're hungry, you're obviously not going to be learning digital photography."

Siebert showed his true colors after the ceremony. And while others were enjoying the evening, he was ready to get back to work.

"When I walked out of that ceremony, my reaction was, 'Great, now I can get back to the trenches,' " he said. "I enjoy it. This isn't something I do as a duty."

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