Joan Marie Sadler

May 19, 1937June 4, 2018
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SADLER, Joan Marie (nee Gahr), 81, asleep in Jesus on Monday, June 4, 2018. Beloved wife of the late Richard A. Sadler; loving mother of James Donald (Marlene), Mark Edward (Kim), Ron W. (Ellen), and the late Dean A. Sadler; dear grandmother of Rebecca (Michael) Little, Kevin (Maureen) Sadler, Matthew (Casey) Sadler, Bryan Sadler, Steven Sadler, Drew Sadler, and Allen Sadler; great grandmother of Sawyer Little; dear brother of the late Edward Gahr.

SERVICES: Visitation on Friday, June 8, 2018 from 9am until time of service at 12pm at KRIEGSHAUSER MORTUARY WEST CHAPEL 9450 Olive Blvd., Olivette. Interment to follow in Valhalla Cemetery.


  • Adolph E. Gahr, Father
  • Marie Virginia (nee Hufford) Gahr, Mother
  • Richard Allen Sadler, Husband
  • Dean Allen Sadler, Son
  • Allen Sadler, Grandson
  • James Donald (Marlene nee Riechers) Sadler, Son
  • Rebecca (Michael) Little, Granddaughter
  • Sawyer Little, Great Grandson
  • Kevin (Maureen) Sadler, Grandson
  • Matthew (Casey) Sadler, Grandson
  • Mark Edward (Kim nee Cody) Sadler, Son
  • Bryan Sadler, Grandson
  • Steven Sadler, Grandson
  • Ron W. (Ellen nee Lang) Sadler, Son
  • Drew Sadler, Grandson
  • Edward Gahr, Brother

  • Ron Sadler
  • Drew Sadler
  • Mark Sadler
  • Bryan Sadler
  • Steven Sadler
  • Jim Sadler
  • Matt Sadler
  • Kevin Sadler


  • Visitation Friday, June 8, 2018
  • Funeral Service Friday, June 8, 2018

Joan Marie Sadler

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Joan Marie (nee Gahr) Sadler, 81, asleep in Jesus on Monday, June 4, 2018. Beloved wife of the late Richard A. Sadler; loving mother of James Donald (Marlene), Mark Edward (Kim), Ron W. (Ellen), and the late Dean A. Sadler; dear grandmother of Rebecca (Michael) Little, Kevin (Maureen) Sadler, Matthew (Casey) Sadler, Bryan Sadler, Steven Sadler, Drew Sadler, and Allen Sadler; great grandmother of Sawyer Little; dear brother of the late Edward Gahr.

SERVICES: Visitation on Friday, June 8, 2018 from 9am until time of service at 12pm at KRIEGSHAUSER MORTUARY WEST CHAPEL 9450 Olive Blvd., Olivette. Interment to follow in Valhalla Cemetery.

Joan Marie Gahr was born Tuesday, October 19, 1937 in St. Louis Missouri to Adolph Edward Gahr and Marie Virginia Hufford Gahr. Her mom and dad lived in a cute little house at #6 Martha Lane in a newer suburb called “Rock Hill Town” (we simply know it now as Rock Hill) and Adolph was the proprietor of his own fledgling hauling company, Gahr Hauling. In 1940, at the age of 29, although the United States had not been pulled into World War II just yet, Adolph did what every young man was required to do, he registered for the draft. Thankfully, for the Gahr family, he was not called up, but I’m sure he did his part stateside. All Americans helped with the war effort, and I would imagine Adolph volunteered the use of his truck many times for metal drives. As a little girl, Joan probably participated in the metal drives at school. With the end of World War II and the boom in construction in America, her dad’s hauling business had become a successful construction endeavor. His business was listed as Gahr Asphalt Paving, construction and resurfacing of driveways and streets, and he worked out of the house they bought at 9745 Keystone Drive in Brentwood.

There isn’t much more known about Joan’s childhood. Sadly, when you are the last of your peers, there is no one left to tell us the story of her childhood. We know she went to Mark Twain Grade school, and we know that her mom and dad loved and cherished their pretty little blonde daughter very much. In 1951, when Joan was 14, her parents surprised her, and possibly themselves, with the birth of her brother, Edward.

Joan attended Brentwood High School. There were some clues in the high school yearbooks that helped us piece together a little more of what her life was like. We discovered her picture several times in the 1953 Brentwood High School yearbook. For example, she played on the girl’s field hockey team. She was also a member of the Pep Club, and a member of the B Club, an organization open only to girls in senior high school who had earned an athletic letter in intramural sports. She also had a job working the concession stand at the Brentwood Theatre, a movie theatre in the neighborhood. It was there she met Richard Sadler, an usher. Richard was five years older than Joan, also a graduate of Brentwood High School, and had played football for the school while he was there. We don’t know how long Richard and Joan dated, but we do know that on November 20, 1953, Richard and Joan got married. Joan must have been a very mature young lady, and her parents must have really liked Richard a lot to give their permission for their daughter to marry at 16, and history has proven they made the right choice.

The mid-fifties saw incredible growth and innovation in America, and Richard was able to take advantage of that, by landing a job at McDonnell Aircraft Company, where they trained him as a machinist and where he would remain for the next 30 years. It had always disappointed Rich that he couldn’t serve his country in the Navy as he had wanted to do, because of his vision. So, working at McDonnell Aircraft afforded him the opportunity to serve his country and provide for his family. Joan had different jobs, all in the same field of hospitality, working at different eating establishments. Little did she know she was honing her skill and talents for a career that would serve her and her family well through her life, and would positively affect thousands of kids along the way.

Joan and Rich had been living with his parents at 9002 Madge in Brentwood at the beginning of their marriage, which, I’m sure, had its pros and cons. Within a year or two, they were able to buy a little place on Mary Avenue where in 1957, Joan and Rich welcomed their first child, a boy, James, and two years later, Dean was born. In the fall of 1961, they found out they were expecting Mark, and they knew they would be bursting at the seams in the house they were in, so they bought their home at 26 Queensbrook in Olivette, the place they would call home for the next 55 years. Mark was born in 1962, and the family was complete in 1966 with the birth of Ron, who by the way, got away with murder.

A lot of fuss is made these days about working women, and mothers who “work outside the home.” With all due respect, they can’t hold a candle to Joan. She had four boys in nine years’ time. Four boys. FOUR. BOYS! She dove into motherhood like a pro from the very beginning. It was as if she was always meant to be the mother of boys.

As evidenced by her lettering in sports in high school, she encouraged her boys to play sports, anything that appealed to them as long as they played something. As small children, she and Rich believed that the scouting program with Boy Scouts of America would be a positive influence with their boys, but there was no troop established at their church, Immanuel Lutheran on Olive. So they created one. Troop 664, and Joan was their first Cub Scout den mother. As the boys aged out of Cub Scouts, Rich took over and became Scoutmaster, and the Boy Scouts would be a part of Joan and Rich’s lives for the rest of their lives.

Any mother of boys would tell you that with raising a houseful of them, the days are an eternity but the years are a blur, and life was never boring. The 1960’s and early 70’s Joan watched her boys grow, and their memories of those days are to be cherished. She’d sometimes take the boys shopping with her to Kresge’s or Woolworths, and if they went to Woolworths, there was a chance mom would let them pop a balloon at the lunch counter for some ice cream. Before the neighborhood gave way to construction in the name of progress, the house on Queensbrook had a woods behind it where the boys would go exploring. Remember, it was the 1960’s and the house, for all its newness, didn’t have air conditioning, not all that unusual, and the place could get pretty warm. The boys remember their dad installed a large belt driven fan in a basement window to pull air through the house. And there was a large four blade fan with no protective cage around it that, by some miracle and a strategically placed chair, no one ever lost a limb walking by. And like any mother of boys, you know that it’s not enough to assume they won’t do something stupid. You have to tell them NOT to put their hands into the wringer washer. Joan was so nervous about that that she forbid them to come near it.

In 1970, Joan experienced her first great loss with the death of her mother from cancer at the all too young age of 53. Jim the oldest was 13, and he remembers that his mom wanted to make sure he understood the basic concepts of life and death, and to offer comfort and reassurance. All the boys were growing up; even the youngest boys were now old enough to leave the house on their own and go exploring. During the summers, Joan would give the boys $2 each so they could spend an afternoon in the cool of the Olivette Ice Skating rink. They’d walk or ride their bikes wherever the day took them. The boys ran errands for their mom, like to Flotkins for a few groceries. They think she sometimes sent them there just to shoo them out of the way, but she was probably just killing two birds with one stone. They’d do dangerous things that Joan probably never knew about unless they got hurt, or until they were older and finally told her, like climbing through the drainage sewers in the creek behind the house. If the boys got hurt doing some daredevil stunt on a bicycle, you know the usual….cuts or chipped teeth…..Joan was there to patch them up. If they got themselves into some hot water, if she could, Joan would cover for them with their dad. She couldn’t protect them from his wrath, though, when he caught them riding their bikes on their rims and tearing up the yard. For all of this mayhem, though, Joan would move Heaven and Earth for her boys. If there was something special they wanted to eat, she would make it for them. If one of her sons wanted something special for Christmas or a birthday, she would find a way to get it. She remained a loving and devoted wife, too, enjoying her evenings with Rich after they both got home for work, and having a date night every once in a while. Joan just didn’t seem to sweat the small stuff, or at least if she did, she never let it show.

Because of the family participation in the Boy Scouts, the Sadler family vacations meant piling in the station wagon with the third row back-facing bench and off they went to scouting jamborees, and adventures to places like the Tetons and Old Faithful, Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, or the Wisconsin Dells. Joan and Rich’s commitment to the scouting program was above and beyond. It was through the scouting program that she and Rich became aware of the organization, the Trappers of Starved Rock, a club out of St. Charles that promoted learning the way of life for fur trappers in the 17 and 1800’s. For Joan this became more of a vocation than a hobby. Several weeks out of the year she immersed herself in this lifestyle. She cooked everything over an open fire. She made dresses out of deerskin and sewed the muslin canvases for the teepees they built. Throughout the 1980’s, every year, they looked forward to the annual Rendezvous at Daniel Boone’s home, and later at Sioux Passage. She held this period of her life very close to her heart, and her boys have honored her in this way with the feather earrings and pendant she is wearing today.

For all of this, the scouts, the day to day with the boys, cooking and cleaning and caring for her husband and sons, we haven’t even touched on her jobs outside the home. Whatever she needed to do to help provide for her family, she did. Joan took on some house cleaning jobs, and she worked for Ponderosa where they depended on her to know a little bit about everything, and even got Jim his first job there. By 1975, Jim was graduating from high school and Dean wasn’t far behind. Mark and Ron were coming into their teen years, when Joan got a job at Ladue grade school in the cafeteria, as a cook. This part time job was perfect because she was near a boy or two at school and cooking was somethings she did well and enjoyed.

At work, she observed the way things were being done, and she noticed that the meals the kids were given were no better than a frozen TV dinner. She learned on the job about school lunch programs and the red tape for government assistance with lunch programs. It wasn’t long before she was doing more than just serving meals.

By 1979 the family was growing with the marriage of Jim and Marlene, and shortly thereafter, Dean and Debbie, and in 1980, they joyfully welcomed the birth of Deana and Debbie’s son, and their first grandchild, Allen. But the greatest heartbreak of Joan’s life came with Dean’s death at the age of 21 from cancer. It’s impossible to imagine her grief, but for everyone else, for Rich and for her boys, Joan was the rock, she was the strong one. The boys said she was always the backbone of the family. They could talk to her about anything. Even as adults when they were married and had lives of their own, Joan was always there with ears to listen and their favorite meal on a plate.

By 1984, Ron, was about to graduate high school. She had been with the Ladue Schools for 9 years now. With more responsibility given to her at work over the years, she made the program her own by creating meal plans and recipes that would give the kids better tasting meals that they would actually eat and enjoy. She got creative with the ground beef and 30 pound block of cheese they were given by the government, and came up with wonderful recipes on her own, like her pizzas and her version of sliders. She deep fried the tortillas to give them an extra crunch, and made tacos and taco salads. There were many pre-made items that could be made available on the menus but before she would feed it to the kids at school, she tried it out on her boys. In other words, they were guinea pigs, but they loved it. They were tasting the rolled up taquitos before their friends. Joan would have everything cooked at the high school and send the meals out to the other schools in the district. In addition to this huge responsibility, she was also tasked with all the bookkeeping and inventory for the entire Ladue School lunch program.

It’s a good thing Joan loved her job and had this great career, because in 1985, Rich, who by now had earned the position of assistant foreman, retired from what had become Boeing Aircraft. Rich was only 58, but Boeing offered him an early retirement severance package that was too good to pass up. The plan worked out well because right about that time, Rich’s mother was needing extra care, so they brought her to live with them, which she did on and off until her passing in 1992. Rich took care of his mom during the day while Joan worked. Rich was able to pursue some hobbies like remote control airplanes, and Joan was very content to tag along with him, and work the concession stands at the RC meets and events they attended. With the younger boys becoming more and more independent, Joan and Rich had more time for each other. They went fishing at Bennett Springs, and they still participated in the Trappers of Starved Rock. By 1995, the Sadler family had grown by two more daughters-in-law and 5 more grandkids.

Her beloved Rich passed away in 1997 at the age of 66. All her life, Joan had been a strong woman, the strongest person her kids had ever known. But Rich’s death broke her heart. More than 44 years of her life was spent next to this man, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. They had weathered so many storms together. It was one of the only times her family had ever seen her cry. Her family rallied around her and gently persuaded her to take a trip to Seattle. At the age of 60 it was Joan’s first time on an airplane and she was afraid to fly. But she got through it and the trip helped her relax and cope with her grief.

In the 21 years since Joan lost Rich, she forged ahead, knowing that her family still needed her, and she needed them now more than ever. She knew that the way to move forward was to do what you love, and keep busy. In those years, Joan found purpose in her career and kept at it until her retirement. She found her greatest joy in her kids and grandkids. She loved being around them and always sent them off with an “I love you” and a kiss goodbye. Her faith got her through the toughest times in her life, and kept her strong for her family. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for them, and now it was their turn to prove to her there wasn’t anything they wouldn’t do for her.

Joan was becoming afraid to live in the house on Queensbrook alone. The house was too big and she was scared. The woman who would do anything for anybody, and loved to please people, had a hard time having even her kids, doing for her, but the boys were right there for her and told her, “mom, you have always done everything for us and now its’s time we do everything for you.” Right away, the boys started looking for a place for their mom to live. It took them a while but they found Victoria Gardens in Eureka. Before mom moved in, they made sure the rooms she had would be as comfortable and familiar as the house. They had all her furniture cleaned before they moved it in, and placed her special pieces in a familiar arrangement to make her feel at home.

The family took her on a trip to Florida for Thanksgiving in 2015 where Joan was able to put her feet in the sand and walk in the waves. It was a great thrill for her. A second trip to Florida in 2016 was not good, and it was clear that Joan was having a hard time getting around. By now, our Joan was 79 years old, and her body was starting to fail her, but she still was able to enjoy her favorite TV shows, and cherished her time spent with her kids and grandkids.