For 45 years, John Patrick Sauer, MD cared for the children of Yellowstone County. In 1973, he joined the Billings Clinic and remained there for his entire medical career, in some cases tending to three generations of the same family. Dr. Sauer was most proud of helping establish a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Billings Clinic alongside his wife Terry, a neonatal nurse. They worked hard to get the NICU up and running, always having faith in their wonderful, dedicated staff during those challenging, but ultimately satisfying, years. Dr. Sauer was also involved in forming the first multi-disciplinary child abuse team in Billings.
Practicing as your friendly neighborhood pediatrician for more than 40 years meant Dr. Sauer built up a huge practice, but he took pride in remembering the names of all his patients. And years later, their children. Dr. Sauer loved his life’s work — he always got a kick out of the Hutterite community offering payment in food and wine — and the number of lives he touched through the Billings Clinic is incalculable.
If there is one thing Dr. Sauer loved more than his work, it was his large, ever-expanding family. Sauer had four sons by his first marriage and added three daughters — he refused to use the “step” prefix — after marrying Terry in 1996. Dr. Sauer was known for “embracing the silliness” as Lisa put it. He loved going overboard on holidays, loudly “singing” oldies while tending to his flower gardens, considering ice cream as a basic food group, and both judging/participating in, the legendary decades-long backyard pool cannonball contests.
Pat and Terry also considered travel essential to their lives. They visited every corner of Montana and the spots their children moved to: San Francisco, Portland, Boston, Denver, Martha’s Vineyard and Brooklyn. Internationally, they went to all manner of countries like Norway, France, Mexico, the Middle East, and had particular affection for Ireland and British Columbia. Back at home, however, Dr. Sauer was a man who knew how to relax. (The producers of Jeopardy! owe him a credit.)
John Patrick Sauer was born April 13, 1942, in Los Angeles, to parents Rita and Kearney Sauer, MD. The youngest of five boys, his education included Santa Clara University (he remains a proud Bronco), St. Louis University School of Medicine, and additional pediatric training at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Women & Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, New York. He also learned on-the-job over three years of proud military service. Assigned to the 2nd Battalion 562nd Nike-Hercules Artillery Defenses, Fort Wainwright, Fairbanks, Alaska, he achieved the rank of major.
Dr. Sauer was preceded in death by his parents and, at childbirth, his brother Thomas. He is survived by Terry, his wonderful wife of 24 years; three brothers Kearney, Anthony and Michael; his sons and their families, Patrick (Kim, Molly), Matthew, Brian (Callen, Miguel, Anthony, Joseph) and Daniel (Wenonah, Waylon, Amos, Jae, ZuZu); and daughters Megan (Josh, Emerson, Finley), Lisa (Jason, Neve, TBD late 2020) and Elizabeth (William, West, Abe).
In light of his years as a Billings physician, the family will celebrate a small funeral presided over by Anthony Sauer. S.J. When the pandemic is behind us, a celebration will be held in his honor and you’re all invited. Donations in Dr. Sauer’s name should be made to Kelker’s Kids, a Billings Clinic organization offering financial assistance to the families of children with cancer. And as someone who needed plenty of it in his last years, Dr. Sauer encourages everyone to donate blood.
Pat and Terry would like to especially thank Dr. Jesus Fabregas at Billings Clinic, who fought for and supported us these last four years. making it possible for Pat to live his best life. We thank Kyle and all the staff in the cancer center for their loving care as well.
Dr. Sauer is grateful to all his patients and their families who placed their trust in him, and to all the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals he worked with every day. Lastly, Dr. Sauer would like to sincerely apologize to anyone he offended along the way.