Their love story was the kind that romance novels are built upon. They were married for over seven decades, and even death was not going to separate them.
When Helen Auer, from Cincinnati, Ohio, passed away at the age of 94, she was sitting in her chair at home. Her husband, Joe, walked into the room, and he knew right away she had left him. He leaned down to kiss her farewell and whispered in her ear, “Helen, call me home,” the Cincinnati Inquirer reported.
It was just a day that had gone by after his beloved Helen passed away—however, it seemed as if she did indeed call him home. Helen died on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, and by Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, Joe had joined her too. He had celebrated his 100th birthday five months prior to passing away, and his nine children knew he would survive one night without his sweetheart but not two.
— The Independent (@Independent) October 22, 2014
The couple first met at church, and after they got married in 1941, they had their first child, Barry. Joe then went away to fight in the U.S. Army against the Germans, as World War II had just broken out. By then, Helen was pregnant with their second child. Helen was able to send him a photo of her along with the two children, Barry and Judy, while he was in France. He put the photo in his wallet and carried it everywhere. Even when he landed at Utah Beach on D-Day, the precious picture remained but smudged. “It never left his wallet,” Jerry Auer, their tenth and last child, said. “It’s still in there right now.”
One of the couple’s daughters, Mary Jo Reiners, who helped her parents with tasks during their latter years, described her mom as the outgoing one of her two parents, “She loved her family and her friends. She loved being busy with her family,” Reiners said. With a brood of ten children to rear, the couple needed to have order in their lives, and Joe was the one who handled the discipline. Being a man of strong faith, as was his wife also, he reared his children with firmness and love.
After Joe served in the war for three years, he returned home and became an engraver, according to the Daily Mail.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) October 22, 2014
When their tenth child reached the third grade, Helen also began working in the cafeteria at the St. Lawrence Parish school, preparing hot lunches. She became part of a group of workers known for their uplifting spirit. “They were called the sisters of the skillet,” Jerry Auer said.
When the couple passed away, their oldest child, Barry, was 72, followed by Judy, Steve, Mary Jo, Jeanne, Karen, Tom, Chris and finally Jerry, aged 52. Bob Auer, one of their ten children, passed away after suffering from cancer several years ago. They were survived by their remaining nine children, 16 grandchildren, 29 great-grandkids and one great-great-grandchild.
— 13News Now (@13NewsNow) October 21, 2014
“Dad thought of his children as a gift from God, that was a responsibility for him,” Mary Jo said. “He taught us to be servants to God and to be caretakers of his Earth. He was recycling on his last day.”
Mary Jo summed up her feelings, “It’s a joyous time. “Mom and Dad lived a blessed life.”
“They were simple, humble people. They wanted nothing and got everything in return,” Jerry said.
“If somebody were thinking of getting married, they could do a lot worse than to look at my parents.”
Indeed, theirs was a true love story.