For 94-year-old Henry “Hank” Sauer and his 86-year-old wife June, attending a recent summer cruise on the Hudson River is just one of many activities the couple engages in as part of their active social life.
From taking an involved role in their sons’ lives to traveling through Europe to running trips for seniors, the couple has led a busy life in their 59 years of marriage.
Both still drive, they make regular trips to watch football games at West Point Military Academy – from which both sons graduated – and Hank still does his own income taxes. The Sauers are also active in the Golden Age Club, which they joined more than 30 years ago, and they run the 50/50 raffle once every month when the group meets.
Last year they organized a trip to the Pine Grove Dude Ranch for the club. Most importantly, the couples’ love has not faded, nor has the enjoyment they derive from spending time together.
“We still have good times together,” said June. “We don’t have to have anybody else.”
“Everything we do together we enjoy,” said Hank.
Dancing into each other’s hearts
While Hank and June’s love has withstood the test of time, when they first met it wasn’t exactly love at first sight.
“We met at a resort but we didn’t like each other,” said Hank, who at the time was dating someone. He had taken his date to a resort in Sussex County.
“We just didn’t hit if off,” said June. She was dating one of his friends.
Five years passed before Hank and June ran into one another again – this time at a dance at Schuetzen Park in North Bergen in 1951.
“We did a lot of dancing in our days,” said Hank. He said the girls were on one side of the room and the boys were on the other side in a stag line.
“That’s the way you met people those days at these dances,” said June. “He came out and said ‘Oh, I know you.’ And I said, ‘I know you too.’”
That night Hank drove June home and told her he’d call. A few months later, they started dating on Wednesday nights, but eventually added Saturday nights.
They started dating on Wednesday nights, but eventually added Saturday nights.
“It just happened,” said Hank about falling in love. “We are still in love with each other.”
The couple married May 9, 1953 and June moved to Secaucus where Hank lived. He had moved a year earlier from Jersey City where he grew up to be near his grandmother. He worked in the insurance business.
June had grown up in what is now Fort Lee but what she said referred to as “Palisade.”
She lived near what was once the Palisade Amusement Park, which operated from 1898 to 1971.
Devoted to family
“We were very active with our kids,” said June. Their names are Gary and Wayne.
June was a registered nurse but she stayed home to take care of her sons and served as a den mother for the Cub Scouts for six years. Hank served on the local Boy Scouts Committee. Both sons became Eagle Scouts.
When the boys were older June returned to work as a clerk at the Middle/High School library – a job she said never felt like a job during her 25 years there.
It was a Cub Scout trip to West Point that sparked their eldest son’s interest in attending the academy.
“Gary [who was 9 at the time] had [June] by the hand and he had me by the hand, and he said, ‘I am coming here,’ ” said Hank. Their son Wayne, who was in the first graduating class from Secaucus High School in 1977, was uncertain about what he wanted to do. But after visiting his older brother often, he also chose to go to West Point.
Both sons graduated from West Point and served in the Army. When Gary and Wayne were both stationed in Germany, their parents traveled all over Europe and visited countries that included France, Austria, Holland, Switzerland, and Italy.
Gary retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel. Wayne retired from the Army as a colonel.
Both sons live in Virginia but drive north to pick up their parents in Secaucus before West Point games.
Hank and June have five grandchildren – all boys, all Scouts. One of the grandchildren has followed in the West Point tradition and another one is planning to apply.
The Sauers hold the record for years of consecutive giving to West Point having made contributions 36 years. They remain active in West Point activities and each year the Sauers participate in the Scoutmaster’s Council, a group that provides Boys and Girls Scouts with information about cadet life at West Point.
Enjoying life together
“You have to have a sense of humor,” said June about what keeps a relationship strong.
“It is a 50-50 deal,” said Hank. He said that they help each other out in daily tasks.
The couple said that there are some activities they just can’t do at their age, but that doesn’t stop them from going out.
“We are not doing as much as we used to but we are still going,” said June.
“We just enjoy life,” said Hank.
“We don’t know how long we can keep going or when we are going to go to the other side,” said June. “We go day by day.”
She said they wake up every morning and thank God for each day.
“Right now we are two millionaires not in money but in our memories,” said Hank. “We have just had a wonderful life.”
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.