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Gren Seibels - TANGO, TANGO

Soaring has lost an Icon. Gren Seibels died on Sunday Oct. 11th. Gren was a man who hated the ordinary, dreaded the humdrum, and was repelled by boredom. His life was spent dodging the snares and traps of conformity. Gren once said, “In a world that offers so many fascinating things to learn and do, a single lifespan seems unfairly brief; no matter how hard we try, or how fast we move, our time runs out before we explored even the hors d’ oeuvres at this incredible banquet.”

Gren got a great start in life. He graduated from the University of the South in Swananee Tenn. The year was 1943, and he graduated summa cum laude. Gren joined the Navy and became a pilot of torpedo planes and dive-bombers. I use to love hearing him talk about those days. Gren never flew combat he was one of those guys that was so good at teaching that he never got the chance to fight. I can only imagine his deep booming voice coming over the intercom as some inept student pilot screwed up a mission. It was during this time that Gren began his love affair with aviation.

Gren left the Navy and moved to Columbia South Carolina. His first job was as a staff reporter on “The State” newspaper. Soon bored with that he moved to new director of a local radio station. This led to the “new medium” television. From 1953-58 Gren was the news director for WIS-TV. Gren got bored again and formed his own company Columbia Films Inc. This company made commercial and documentary films.

Gren helped establish the Boys Clubs of Columbia, and was the director of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce in the early 60’s.

Gren began to soar with great regularity in the mid 60’s, and he was a charter member of the Chester gang. In 1968 Gren organized the first soaring contest held at Chester. This race soon became the regional race of the season. It was the place to come to shake off the rust and cold of winter. Gren was a great organizer, and his leadership made the races the best organized of their time. The famous and the wantabes made sure Chester was on their racing calendars. From Butler to Byrd, Moffat to Mozer, and Schreder to Scheuman they all came to run against each other, and all under the watchful eye of Gren. It was under Gren’s contest leadership that I learned the ins and outs of putting on a race. He let me run the gates and windows as I thought they should be. As long as the pilots were happy Gren was happy. Many years later some ask Gren “if he knew Charlie Spratt?” Gren replied “ KNOW HIM, HELL, I INVENTED HIM!” That is the truth, for without Gren I would not have been in racing

Gren had a wonderful gift. He could put into words the things all of us who are in Soaring feel. Gren wrote four books about our Sport, and each one of them is a gem. He could make you feel as though you were in the cockpit with him, and he could bring a smile to your face with the descriptions of the people in this game. He knew everyone and had an opinion on everything. He was a straight shooter, and a straight up guy. I must admit that I knew times where changing when Gren finally made the tortured decision to quit soaring. Chester was never the same. Something went out of all of us when ole “Tango Tango” wasn’t heard to call “One Mile Out.” The meets at Chester continued on, but the Golden Age was over.

Because Gren had left Soaring so many years ago his flag had faded, but those who remembered continued to visit him. The annual trek to the Seniors over the past 10 years has been a chance for many to stop by and spend a little time with Gren and Trudy. Grens love of the sport is obvious in his writings, and the stories are timeless. Gren, all of us who love racing sailplanes owe you more than we can pay. We raise our glasses to you and one last time say thanks. Rest easy old friend.

Posted: 12/1/1998


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