Our deepest condolences to the family of Jim Sauer

You were an inspiration to all and a great friend to Applefest.

Jim Sauer wanted nothing more than to see his students involved. Teaching was his life, and the stage it played on for 44 years was Central High School. He spent summers planning curriculum. Lectures were interactive — sometimes unconventional — memorization techniques tossed out in favor of group discussion.

“Jim was very much a free spirit,” said his wife, Dee Sauer. “He never did things like everybody else did.”Sauer retired in 2009.  On Thursday, Sauer died in his sleep after suffering a stroke. He was 69.

Jim G. Sauer was born on April 27, 1942, in La Crosse. The Hokah, Minn., native started teaching at Central only 23 years later, settling down after a degree from St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minn., and two years in the Navy.Years later, Sauer was on a walk to raise money for cerebral palsy when a little girl walked up and placed his hand into the hand of the woman next to him.

“We always said she was an angel,” Dee Sauer said. The two were married on August 14, 1976, and had six children.

Family, fellow educators, and former students remember Sauer as many things – energetic, involved, outgoing – but a common thread bound his teaching philosophy to his approach to life, and that was the value of people as individuals, his son Jeff Sauer said.Sauer held yearly taco nights for the high school debate team he coached, and always chose the busy aisle in the grocery store to walk down — a better chance to meet and chat with people, Dee Sauer said.

“He was hilarious to watch walking down the hall, because his head would bob,” said Margaret Johnson, who taught at Central with Sauer. “He wanted to greet every single person he met.”Sauer was a legend at Central for his positive attitude, where he touched the hearts and minds of students with passion and honesty.“You could see it in his mannerisms, and you could hear it in his voice,” said Ann Garity, who was in Sauer’s psychology class before graduating in 1978.

Perhaps one of his strongest suits as an educator was the priority he placed in his students, who always came first, Central Principal Jeff Fleig said.

“Beyond the fact that he was a special teacher, he was just a real special person,” Fleig said. “He loved Central High School.”