In Rose Anne Sachse's 89 years she has seen a lot of change in the world — and her own life. There are things however, that remain solid as a rock in Rose Anne's life — her faith, family, reading, letter writing, coffee and of course — rum cakes.
By RIMSIE MCCONIGA
In Rose Anne Sachse’s 89 years she has seen a lot of change in the world — and her own life. There are things however, that remain solid as a rock in Rose Anne’s life — her faith, family, reading, letter writing, coffee and of course — rum cakes.
When she answered a newspaper ad for a summer school teacher when World War II was raging and there wasa shortage of teachers, she began teaching at the age of 18 in a one-room schoolhouse with 16 students in Mitchell, South Dakota.
“One of the students was my 13-year-old sister,” says Rose Anne. “I taught for two years and loved all of it. I played games at recess with them because there weren’t that many students so we needed everyone. It was difficult because some of the girls would bring movie magazines to school and hide it in their math books.”
After teaching in South Dakota, she and a girlfriend decided to move to Denver, where her life would change dramatically. She was working as a receptionist for the Sisters of Charity who owned a hospital.
When Mike Sachse, an Atchison and Lowemont native and Kansas State graduate who was working as a civil engineer in Denver asked her to marry him she said ‘yes.’ A few weeks before they were to be married he got a phone call from Leavenworth County and was asked to come back to the area and become the county engineer.
“My husband traveled all over for the Navy and when he returned he decided that Leavenworth was one of the best places to live in the whole world,” says Rose Anne. “I remember each time that I had a baby people that I didn’t know very well would come to visit me. It’s the people that make you like a town. It doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the grocery stores or how many stores there are. It has everything to do with your relationships in the stores or the community. There are lovely people in Leavenworth.
Their first abode was an apartment in 1956. But they dreamed of finding a big house in the country and filling it with children. When they heard about an 80-acre farm that was for sale they immediately put a $10,500 bid on it, and despite the fact there was no electricity or running water, they were delighted when they found out they got it.
They slowly renovated the house and raised five children there. She still lives there. “I still love the farm and living in the country,” says Rose Anne.
When she moved to Leavenworth as a newlywed she was feeling lonely since she knew few people. “ I remember ladies in Denver having coffee groups so my friends and I decided to give it a try. We started with some farm wives and served cookies, but we learned to serve a hot loaf of bread or different coffee cakes. The coffee group met frequently for years and we still all stay in touch.”
Rose Anne is determined to stay active, and keeping her mind engaged is something that comes naturally to her. She visits the library often. She is a dedicated reader and she reads fast. She flies through two to three books each week.
“My mom would read to us kids every night,” says Rose Anne. “She would read poems or stories from the ‘Lives of the Saints,’ or sometimes she would make up a story for us. We memorized poems growing up and most are still with me today. I can spend hours reading poems and have taught all my grandkids to appreciate them. We like to recite them together or just read them out loud.”
She also believes that she has too much to be thankful for to not start the day thanking the Lord, so she attends Mass at Immaculate Conception/St. Joseph Church every single morning. “It helps to give all your cares to the Lord. You feel like a new person. I love daily Mass, and I don’t think that I could make it without it.”
The thing she is most thankful for in life is that her parents followed Jesus Christ as Catholics.
It was at a church bazaar about 20 years ago that Rose Anne overheard people raving about a rum cake that someone had baked and brought to the event. She tracked down the woman who had made it and asked her if she would share her special recipe. Rose Anne has been making them ever since for myriad events and celebrations, including birthdays and new neighbors. She made 58 rum cakes last year alone and has no intention of slowing down on production.
While she has seen some dramatic technological advances in her lifetime, Rose Anne is still a devoted hand-written letter writer and she loves visiting the post office. “My family knows I love to check the mail,” says Rose Anne. “I’m a letter writer. Letters were very important to my mother. She taught me to just write what you are doing. You don’t need to tell them something big. Talk about what’s in the present, what you would say if the recipient were sitting across from you. If you are having a bad day, it’s OK to say that. I still write a few letters a week.”
As she approaches her nonagenarian years Rose Anne is keen on retaining her happy quality of life and she urges others who are approaching their golden years to ensure their own peace of mind and happiness by doing something for somebody else. “Find a neighbor that needs help and stop in to ask them what you can do for them. Open your heart to your neighbors even if you don’t know them very well. I found out that my neighbors are great people.”
Rose Anne has learned many thing over her nine decades — most importantly, love and kindness get you a long way.