Sielaff, Theodore John (1920-2006)

Sielaff, Theodore John (1920-2006)

Date Updated



School of Business

Academic Rank

Professor of Business

Year Retired from SJSU


Educational Background

University of Minnesota, 1951 Ph.D.

University of Minnesota, 1944 M.A.

University of Minnesota, 1942 B.S.

Teaching Experience

Hogskolan i Vaxjo (Sweden) Three months in 1991 and three months in 1992.

San Jose State University, 1954-1990

Wuxi Textile Management University (Wuxi, China) Four weeks in 1987.

East China Petroleum Institute (Dongying, China) Five weeks in 1983.

Macalester College (St. Paul, Minnesota), 1943-1954

Administrative and Professional Experience

From 1962 to 1982, I was President and owner of The Lansford Publishing Company ‑‑a publisher of educational material sold through the mail to colleges, universities, and businesses all over the world. At its peak, it employed 20 people, 100 free‑lance authors, and had sales to every major university and corporation in the U.S.A. and Canada.

Selected Publications

General Business (with Aberle and Mayer), Prentice‑Hall, 1959.

Introduction to Business (with Aberle), Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1961, 1966, 1969, 1972, 1977. It went through 5 editions and sold over 100,000 copies.

Personal Commentary

I grew up during the Great Depression of the thirties and saw how tough it could be when people did not have a job or money. My father, a traveling salesman for a wholesale dry goods company, would say: "Ted, get into a profession so that you won't have to travel, be away from home, and put up with an unreasonable boss." I think these two factors caused me to choose business teaching as a profession. My first job was at Macalester College (St. Paul, MN, enrollment: 1,000) where I offered to teach for nothing to get some experience. On the day of my visit, one of their economic teachers had become seriously ill and they needed a replacement in a hurry. The next day I was in front of a class as a salaried teacher and scared to death. During my 10 years at Macalester, I worked for a Ph.D. in economics‑­thinking of my graduate work as a hobby. A wish for a better income and more economic security attracted me to San Jose State where I taught for 36 years. I have loved my work at SJSU and felt it was a constructive. Becoming a teacher helped me in another way. When I was 16 years old, I fractured my hip in a high school football accident. It left me with a slightly weaker leg that was one inch shorter and restricted somewhat my choice of work.

The most dramatic and frightening episode of my life was my experience, at 58, with lymphoma‑‑cancer of the lymphatic system. At first, doctors thought it was the flu or an ulcer. When a lymph node was biopsied at the prestigious Mayo Clinic, they described it as only a benign tumor. But, I got sicker and sicker. Subsequent evaluation of the very same records and slides by doctors at the Palo Alto Medical Clinic revealed I had lymphoma. I had been the victim of a terrible diagnosis at Mayo. For 5 years, I took chemotherapy and suffered vomiting, loss of hair, sore joints, sore back, and anxiety about my survival. A positive attitude, optimism, humor, a loving family and friends, and the encouragement of my good wife kept me going during many bad days. After 5 years, at 63, I was able to conquer this illness and have been free of cancer since.

I was born into the Lutheran Church and proud to be a Christian who holds ideals of love, kindness, and forgiveness, but I know that I fail many times. Our 3 boys, daughter‑in‑law, and 2 granddaughters have given my wife and me much pride, enjoyment, and many fond memories of our times together.

In retirement, I do things with no thought of personal reward. I have taught overseas, been a speaker for the American Cancer Society, write an occasional newsletter for friends and family, write letters to the editor of the San Jose Mercury News, write opinion pieces for KQED‑FM, organize activities, play the piano on Fridays for a singing group at Mission Skilled Nursing Center, and help where I think I am needed.

Date Completed: 6/96

Adapted from: Biographies of Retired Faculty San Jose State University 1997: A Project of the Emeritus Faculty Association of San Jose State University. San Jose, CA: The University, 1997.


Sielaff, Theodore John (1920-2006)