Cover photo for Jean Sauter's Obituary
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Jean Sauter

October 30, 1929 — November 15, 2021

Jean Sauter

In Loving Remembrance of Jean Esther Sauter (October 30, 1929 - November 15, 2021)

Jean E. Sauter touched many during her life.  Her strong faith in the Lord gave her an inner strength and tenacity which she in turn used to enrich the lives of others.  Sadly, her caring and sharing gradually ended as Alzheimer’s strengthened its grip on her.

Born in New York in 1929, she went on to live a full life spanning over 9 decades.  She graduated from the University of Buffalo in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science degree in General Elementary.  While attending college, she was actively involved in the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority,  It was in college that she forged lifelong friendships while earning her degree.

After graduating college and being tired of the snowy winters and humid summers, Jean made her dream of moving to sunny, southern California a reality.  She got an apartment and taught 2nd grade at Edison Elementary in Santa Ana for a few years.  During this time Jean maintained a long-distance relationship with her suitor, Eugene (Gene) Sauter, primarily via written correspondence.

Jean eventually let go of her teaching position in order to move back to New York and marry Gene.  She resumed teaching 2nd grade at The Holmes Elementary School in Tonawanda, NY, from September 1957 to June 1959.  This time she suspended her career to begin a family with Gene.  They had a son, Edward, followed three years later by Donna.  (As it turned out, Ed and Donna had a pair of “jeans” for parents!)

Thankfully for Jean, Gene was also weary of the northerly East Coast weather.  So in 1965 the young family relocated to Garden Grove.  Jean was excited to be back in southern CA, especially since her parents as well as both her sisters, Vern Hilton and Lorna Cherney, and their families either already lived in SoCal or were planning to move there.  Her parents resided 10 minutes away in Westminster, Vern’s family lived 2 hours away in San Diego, and Lorna’s family was a mere couple minutes away, also being in Garden Grove.

Jean was a stay-at-home mom until both children were attending school.  Since she missed the classroom, and also perhaps because her marriage was faltering, she returned to teaching in 1972 and again in Santa Ana.  After several years in the profession, she went on to earn her Master’s Degree.  Jean absolutely loved teaching, and in return she was loved dearly by her colleagues, her students and their parents.  She received many notecards and letters throughout the years attesting to this.  Here is a sample from one of the many letters:  “There have been so many many times Marla has come home so excited over things she has learned.  Marla thinks the world of you.”  Deciding to retire was truly a difficult decision, and after 25 successive years in the Santa Ana Unified School District teaching 2nd grade, 1st grade, and kindergarten, respectively, her retirement commenced in June 1997.

Throughout Jean’s adult life, her faith in her personal Lord & Saviour never faltered.  Her inner strength and tenacity were put to the test when she was dealt the heartbreaking blow of Eugene leaving the marriage.  Since her children were 9 and 12 years of age, she found the courage and guidance from God to be a single parent while continuing in her teaching career.  Jean provided a loving, stable home for her children, which included weekly attendance (often 3 times a week!) at Anaheim Community Church, a nearby non-denominational, Bible-based Christian church.  She also managed her earnings and investments wisely and was able to put Ed and Donna through college while saving for a comfortable retirement.

In her retirement years, Jean kept busy with Bible classes and exercise classes.  She also was an avid reader and now had time to peruse her extensive book collection.  She also enjoyed attending events, and for several years she and a group of teachers got season tickets for the local playhouse.  Oh, and she especially loved when “Stars on Ice” came to town!  Also, Jean often mentioned that after retirement she hoped to move to San Diego to live near her eldest sister, Vern.  That dream sadly never came to fruition due to Vern’s passing from Lou Gerhig’s disease in December 1998.

Jean was always ready to step in and help.  One morning she received a phone call from an elderly woman.  The woman had misdialed; Jean not only befriended the errant caller but also began taking her grocery shopping once a week.  This friendship continued until the woman passed away one and a half years later.

In January 2009 Jean moved to Coeur d’Alene, ID, to be near her son Ed, daughter-in-law Arisbeth, and granddaughter Grace.  But before purchasing her Idaho house located 5 minutes from Ed’s home, Jean made sure her daughter Donna would also move from CA to the Pacific Northwest, which happened that March.  Though she adored her cozy home, Jean kept mentioning how she wanted to live with Donna, who was living 30 minutes away in Veradale, WA.

Again, with God’s impeccable timing for His children, Jean’s niece Lisa was in between homes and was looking for a temporary place.  So it was arranged for Lisa to rent Jean’s home and maintain the property while Jean moved in with Donna and son-in-law David.  This arrangement lasted approximately one year before Jean longed to move back to her Cd’A home.

Since now she no longer had the mental capacity to live on her own, Angie Castaneda, David’s mom, agreed to live with Jean.  Angie rented out her CA house, and both she and Jean moved into Jean’s Cd’A home.  This arrangement worked very well for about a year, but Jean’s continual decline reached a point where Angie could no longer assist.  It was unsafe for her to live alone, so Jean moved back in with Donna and David in early 2015.

Donna took a 3 month leave of absence from work to get a plan in place for Jean to be tended while David and Donna were at work.  In-home care did not work well, and neither did adult daycare.  So in August 2015 Jean was moved into an assisted living community, Enlivant’s Honeysuckle Place in Hayden, ID.  She was 10 minutes from Ed and 35 minutes from Donna, so they were able to regularly visit her and take her grocery shopping.  Only  minimal assistance was required at first, but after nearly 2 years, Jean was in need of stricter supervision, a level that they weren’t able to provide at Honeysuckle.  According to God’s perfect timing, a new Enlivant property with a memory care unit was nearing completion in Donna’s neck of the woods.  Now Jean would be 5 minutes from Donna and 30 minutes from Ed.  Being one of its very first residents, Jean moved into Ridgeview Place in Spokane Valley, WA, in March 2017.  As her memory failed her even more, Jean thought Donna was her sister Lorna, who had passed away several years prior in 2010.  Donna took comfort in knowing that at least her mom still recognized her as family!

As Alzheimer’s continued to take its toll, Ed and Donna noticed their mother, though in a nice, beautiful, new facility, wasn’t receiving the utmost attention and care.  There was constant staff turnover; Donna eventually gave up trying to learn new names.  Also, the meal schedule was too strict and didn’t allow enough time for the residents to be properly fed.  When hospice was called in (initially unbeknownst to Ed  and Donna) due to Jean’s weight loss, her children knew it was time to move her to Ed’s home, which had a floor plan and bathroom better suited for Jean’s needs than what Donna’s home offered.  (Actually, both children purchased their homes with the future intention of Jean living with them, and God’s beautiful timing was such that she resided with Donna’s family for a total of nearly one and a half years and with Ed’s family for 2 years!)

Jean moved for the final time to Ed’s home on November 18, 2019.  Yet again we pause to celebrate God’s loving timing because Jean was moved out of Ridgeview Place shortly before Covid-19 lockdowns started happening. Jean’s children had no clue that was going to happen, but God sure did, and He saw to it that Jean was situated safely and comfortably (including being very well fed with Arisbeth’s delicious cooking and gaining back her weight) for her final 2 years.  Though mostly bedridden, she received the utmost love, care, and attention from Ed and Arisbeth.  Two regular home-care workers, Sucel and Jessica, supported them.

Jean soon reached a point where she recognized no one, but she always smiled warmly to whomever greeted her, up until the end.  Her final Christmas in 2020 was especially memorable for Donna.  As Donna was saying goodbye to her mom before heading home, she said the usual, “I love you, Mom!”  And for the 1st time in over 2 years, Jean responded with “I love you” in return!

In addition to Jean’s loving memory, we mustn’t forget about her love of animals!  She often fondly recounted this story of her beloved dog Jack:  As a young girl, one day she was in a field when a neighbor’s horse got loose and was barreling directly towards her.  Jack, barking loudly, jumped in front of her, and caused the horse to change direction at the last minute. She was convinced Jack saved her from being trampled.  Then there’s Abby and Suki, her 2 cats she dearly loved and spoiled in her retirement years.

It was at some point between breakfast and lunch on November 15, 2021, that Mom took her last earthly breath.  During our grief, though, we are able to take comfort in several things, including: she was lovingly tended to 24/7 the last couple years of her life.  She had a peaceful passing.  We shall see her again one day in heaven.  God’s timing, though we often don’t understand it, is perfect and according to His will.

God hath not promised
Skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways
All our lives through;
God hath not promised
Sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
Peace without pain.
But God hath promised
Strength for the day,
Rest for the labor,
Light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
Undying love…

In lieu of flowers please make a donation in Jean's memory.

Her favorite charity organizations were for Bible-based ministries (ACLJ, Moody Bible Radio, Family Life), Veterans (Wounded Warrior, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Save-A-Vet), and animals (Paws for Life, Stray Cats Alliance, ASPCA). There are plenty of other worthy charities from which to choose!

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jean Sauter, please visit our flower store.


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