This from John Faherty, The Cincinnati Enquirer:


CINCINNATI — When Helen Auer died on Wednesday, she was sitting in her chair. Her husband of 73 years came into the room and knew right away. Joe leaned over, gave her a kiss goodbye, and whispered in her ear: “Helen, call me home.”

Just 28 hours later, Helen did. Joe Auer died at the age of 100. His children figured he could manage one night without her, but not two. Wednesday they will have a funeral mass in front of the same altar where they were married in 1941.

635495615709374659-coupleThis was a couple from a different time. They survived the Depression in East Price Hill, they met at church and had their first of 10 children before Joe went off to fight in World War II. Helen was pregnant with their second when Joe left. She kissed him at the end of the driveway and he walked down toward Greenwell Avenue and then Union Terminal on his way to go fight the Germans with the U.S. Army.

Helen (nee Fluegeman) was able to mail him a photo, somewhere in France, of her with their two children, Barry and Judy. Joe would meet Judy for the first time when she was 3 years old.

Joe carried that photo in his wallet as he trudged through Europe after landing at Utah Beach on D-Day. He kept that photo in his wallet, in fact, the rest of his life; smudged and worn and endlessly important. “It never left his wallet,” Jerry Auer, Helen and Joe’s 10th and final child, said. “It’s still in there right now.”

Mary Jo Reiners, one of their daughters, was driving to the funeral home Monday to help make the final arrangements. “It’s a joyous time,” Reiners said. “Mom and Dad lived a blessed life.”

Reiners retired a little bit early so she could help them at the end, when Helen’s arthritis was getting bad and Joe needed help with the meals and the laundry. She said her mother was the gregarious one. “She loved her family and her friends. She loved being busy with her family.”

Joe was a little more quiet and handled the discipline in the family. But Reiners said he was defined by his dedication to his faith and his family and the Earth.

“Dad thought of his children as a gift from God, that was a responsibility for him,” Reiners said. “He taught us to be servants to God and to be caretakers of his Earth. He was recycling on his last day.”

This marriage was a love story, but it was a real-life love story. Joe and Helen’s marriage survived because they loved each other and because they worked at their marriage and they shared a devout faith.

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