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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarianism in the News

February 2, 2003 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

Vegetarians Pay Tribute to Hans Siegenthaler

Southern California vegetarians paid special tribute to Hans Siegenthaler in a moving memorial ceremony at the Unitarian Universalist Church (The Onion) in North Hills, California, Sunday, February 2.

Siegenthaler, who passed away in his home on January 23 in the presence of his wife, Coby, and a few close friends, was eulogized in the ceremony for his devotion to vegetarianism, animal rights, environmental and other humanitarian causes. At his request his body was donated to a local university for research purposes. Hans Siegenthaler

The evening featured tributes by Andy Mars, Marr Nealon, and Janet Allen. Howard Lyman, fighting back tears, told the gathering of approximately 300, "Hans was one of the greatest friends I have ever had. He was my foster father. He lived as well as any human could." He urged those present, "Take this evening to toast one of the greatest people who ever lived."

During the emotional evening filled with poetry readings, songs, and violin and cello solos a number of people came forward to recall their memories of Siegenthaler. The group also viewed a videotape of Chris DeRose of the Last Chance for Animals who was unable to attend but wanted to contribute his eulogy.

In poor health for the last few years, Siegenthaler, 81 at the time of his death, still managed to be active in numerous causes. He and his wife celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary at The Onion, a festive occasion that included many guests who provided music, song, dance, and poetry to honor the couple in December 2001. In February of the following year Hans accepted an honorary award for his parents, Hugo and Wijbrigje Siegenthaler, who helped rescue Jews in Holland during the Holocaust. The elder Siegenthalers were deemed "righteous among nations."

"They are the only couple I have ever met, who after 51 years of marriage, were still like newlyweds, still thrilled to be in one another's company, who still had a twinkle in their eyes for each other," says Marr Nealon, devoted friend of the couple. " They are the epitome of soul mates. I believe their secret has been the heartfelt bond of a cruelty-free lifestyle, and as Coby says, 'Just simply loving each other and being cruelty free to each other, as well as the animals.'

"Hans hung on through recent illnesses. It was obvious he didn't want to leave this wonderful woman he'd been sharing life with, nor their circle of friends. He greatly enjoyed having people stop by their friendly haven," Marr added.

The Siegenthalers were well known in Southern California because for many years their home has been the location of monthly vegan potlucks as well as a meeting place for Green Party members. The couple, life-long vegetarians, survived the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands and emigrated to the United States in 1955. They both became naturalized citizens in 1961.

Hans Siegenthaler is survived by his wife, Coby, and his daughter, Noor.

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