Obituary of Helmut Saager
Brockport - Helmut Saager, February 5, 2020, age 89. He is survived by his wife, Theresia; his children, Rick (Sonia Serrano) Saager, Linda (Mark) Ketchum, Don Saager, John Saager and Sue (Scott) Gibbs; his grandchildren, Aaron & Casey Gibbs; his brothers, Ullrich (Friedel) Saager and Bernhard (Marion) Saager; his sisters-in-law, Brigitte Lehmann and Karin Saager; his many friends, nieces, nephews, cousins, and relatives and friends in Germany. Helmut was predeceased by grandson, Marcus Gibbs; and his brothers, Gerhard and Siegfried Saager.
Friends may call Tuesday, February 11th from 4-6 PM at the Thomas E. Burger Funeral Home in Hilton.
Helmut was born in East Prussia, Germany. He spent his first 8 years living on his Grandparents' farm in Pfaffendorf. His fondest childhood memories included fishing in the man made pond nearby. From there he moved to Brodienen where he really liked his school teacher and enjoyed swimming and fishing in nearby lakes. In 1939 his father entered World War II and Helmut was left to be the man of the house, fighting often with his brother Siegfried, who was only a year younger, over who should be the boss of the younger brothers, Ullrich, Gerhard, and eventually Bernhard. At the age of 14 he finished grammar school and went to trade school and worked for practical trade experience to enter the lumber business. He was training to buy trees to turn into lumber for sale. He also learned the operation of the large saw mills. His training was interrupted by the last months of World War II in 1945, when the Russian army came through his town. Helmut was taken, along with some of the other older boys not yet drafted into the German army. They were interrogated and then forced to work for the Russians a couple villages away. When the war ended and the German border was moved, East Prussia became part Russia and part Poland. The Russians left and Helmut went to work for a Polish Fisherman. In 1947 his family had to choose to become Polish citizens or leave. Since his father had already been captured, as a German army Medic in Italy, and subsequently released to West Germany, Helmut's mother decided to take the boys there, where his Father had found a job working on the railroad. Helmut got a job there also and they lived in a railroad car for approximately 2 years or more, as they traveled from city to city repairing the railroad. Eventually, as Progress was made his family was permitted to have an apartment in Gellendorf, near Rheine in the northwest part of Germany near the border to Holland. That is where Helmut met Thersia (Resi) in a restaurant, called Evers, where the entertainment included drinks and dancing. Dad saw mom dancing and when she sat down again, he asked her to dance and they became an item! At one point they broke up but Resi wanted Helmut back so when they were both at a dance hall again, she asked the band to play a "Ladies Choice" song and she went and got him back. He was a fantastic dancer!
Helmut continued to work for the railroad and traveled quite a bit. He wanted to be promoted to an administrative position and took courses towards that end. Since he could travel for free on the railroad, he took Resi on vacations, the first of which was to the south of Germany, to Tegernsee, in the Bavarian Alps. They loved to travel and once they were married in 1954, Resi could travel for free also.
Resi had a friend, Irene, who immigrated from Germany to Rochester, NY with an American soldier, Louis, after his duty in Germany was over. Irene wrote to Resi inviting her for a visit but Helmut didn't want to just visit, he wanted to immigrate and find the American Dream. They saved their money for the transatlantic voyage, on the Berlin ocean liner. They arrived in New York City and immediately traveled by train to Rochester on March 8, 1955. Helmut inspected the railroad cars and tracks in Albany and decided to never travel by train in the US again!
Helmut and Resi lived with Irene and Louis, and their son Donny, on Glide Street first, then moved to a bigger apartment on Ridge Road East in Irondequoit, and eventually had an apartment of their own on Canton Street.
Resi got a job at Loblaw's grocery store on Lyell Avenue, and Helmut worked at a mattress company first then also at Loblaw's. He learned that Rochester was a city full of manufacturing jobs so he enrolled in evening courses at RIT to learn machine shop mathematics and other necessary skills. He started his first machine shop job at Gleason Works on University Avenue in 1956, where he met Wilfried Schneider. After a short period he was encouraged by Otto Lehmann to apply for a better job at Mixing Equipment on Mt. Read Blvd. He worked there from 1957 until about 1973. There he met and brought home to visit, Herman Univericht, and his wife Ulla.
Helmut then went to work for Eastman Kodak. He was well respected for his skills and his dependability. He was asked to learn new machines as they were brought in, and train others. He had a great relationship with his boss, Joe Loverdi. Helmut retired from Kodak with a "golden parachute" early layoff package in 1991 at the age of 61... and oh what a retirement it was! Helmut and Resi enjoyed traveling to Germany, Marco Island and Daytona, Florida, cruises in the Caribbean, and one "trip of a lifetime" to Alaska.
Helmut and Resi moved into their home on Sweden Walker Road in 1959. They made friends in the neighborhood with the Redding's, Walsh's, Fox's, Camman's, Sweeney's, Ferris's, Robbs's, Caves's... who all had children the same ages as their own five children. There was always a worn patch of grass in Helmut's backyard where the soccer goal was, from the kids playing soccer, being taught technique by Helmut. He coached "little guy" soccer when Rick started playing. Thus began a very long soccer playing career for Rick and just as long for Helmut as a spectator. He watched all his kids play but rarely missed one of Rick's games, right up until a few years ago when he couldn't get close enough to the field anymore.
Helmut and Resi met Frank and Irene Singer because Frank was an upholsterer, referred by a friend from the Apostolic church they attended at first. They became fast friends with common immigrant backgrounds. Through the Singers, they met the Michalski's, Werner's, Kruger's, Halters, and other friends who became closer than family. Many parties and vacations together provided great memories along the way.
Speaking of family, Helmut and Resi supported Resi's youngest sister Brigitte, and Helmut's younger brothers, Ullrich and Gerhard, to immigrate to the US. Brigitte met John Meiler dancing at the German House. John was a member of the Schwaben Club and of the German American Sports Club here in Rochester. Helmut went to the sports club with John, and even played on their soccer teams for about 15 years. He remained a member of the club until it dissolved in 2015, and even served as president for a couple years. Helmut and Resi enjoyed many social events through the sports club and made many longtime and beloved friends.
Helmut and Resi always had an open house for relatives and friends visiting from Germany. Helmut had a close-knit immediate family that celebrated every birthday and milestone with love and gusto, and of course a delicious cake made by Resi.
Helmut was a very social (outspoken!) person who was loved and will be remembered by many.
Friends may call Tuesday, 4-6 pm at the Thomas E. Burger Funeral Home, Hilton.