May 21, 1920 — June 27, 2019
Eugene H. Bauer spent the final years of his career as a Buffalo firefighter as the driver and aide to the chief of the Second Battalion.
"Our jobs were to get the chief to the fire safely and sometimes maintain radio contact, because there weren't that many portable radios at that time," said Pat Coghlan, a Buffalo Fire Department retiree who also worked as a chief's aide for a while.
On April 25, 1974, Mr. Bauer's job included plunging into a smoke-filled living room to pull a 59-year-old woman from a house fire on O'Connell Street in which her son died and reviving her with oxygen. For those lifesaving actions, he received the Buffalo Fire Department's Commissioner John J. Tubridy Bravery Memorial Award in 1975.
"I remember when he received the award," said his son William Bauer, "but he would mention something like that and that would be the end of it. He was pretty humble."
After retiring from the fire department in 1978, Mr. Bauer developed his creative side, becoming a stained glass craftsman. He made the shamrock stained glass door panel that spells out the name of the historic Swannie House on Michigan Avenue.
Mr. Bauer died on June 27, 2019, in Autumn View Health Care Facility in Hamburg, where he had lived for several months. He was 99.
He was the oldest of six children of Eugene and Florence Bauer Sr. He graduated from St. Teresa's grammar school and from St. Mary's Business School in 1939, then from Burgard Vocational High School in 1941.
He worked at Bell Aircraft in Wheatfield before enlisting in the Army Air Forces on April 3, 1943. "He could have gotten a deferment because he was doing defense work, but he enlisted," said his daughter Ellen Bauer.
Assigned to work as a mechanic, Mr. Bauer was stationed at bases in Wales and in France. He received the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal and a good conduct medal, and was honorably discharged on April 28, 1946, as a staff sergeant.
Mr. Bauer married South Buffalo neighbor Ellen June Woods on April 12, 1947, in St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church. They raised their family in South Buffalo.
He briefly returned to work at Bell after the war, then was hired by the Buffalo Fire Department.
On Feb. 24, 1961, Mr. Bauer was part of a fire department crew that rescued a dog named Sparky from the ice of Cazenovia Creek. His fellow firefighters from Hook & Ladder 10 on Southside Parkway lowered Mr. Bauer on a ladder to the ice to pull the dog to safety. He received a citation from the SPCA Serving Erie County for the rescue.
He was recommended for a bravery citation in April of 1956 when he and two other firefighters "put on gas masks," a new invention at the time, and entered a burning house on Glendhu Place to search for possible victims. One of the other firefighters was burned and Mr. Bauer and the third firefighter were treated for smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion.
He retired in 1978. Mr. Bauer started golfing after retirement, and two years later, he got a hole-in-one, his son recalled.
In addition to continuing the construction and remodeling work he had done as a side job during his fire department career, Mr. Bauer developed his creative side in retirement. After taking a few classes in stained glass, he developed a skillful touch. In 2011, Mr. Bauer crafted a stained glass panel for the entrance of the new building of his son's West Seneca business.
He made stained glass pieces for each of his children and grandchildren, including exact 1:26 scale replicas of their family houses and three-dimensional sailing ships. "He never used a kit," said his son. "He would sit down and draw pictures of things, and then make them."
William Bauer recalled that about seven years ago he added an addition to his West Seneca home for his parents. "He was 93 years old, and he was helping me put up the siding," his son said.
His family was also touched by tragedy: his older son, Eugene, died in a car crash on Feb. 24, 2018.
Besides his wife of 72 years, his son and his daughter, Mr. Bauer is survived by another daughter, Suzanne Lynch; a brother, John Bauer; a sister, Rosemarie Sroka; 18 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday in SS. Peter and Paul Church, 66 E. Main St., Hamburg.