Harry Hauri believes there are two keys to living into your 90s: oatmeal and walking.
Hauri, 92, has eaten oatmeal nearly every day of his life. That and two-mile daily walks, when weather permits, have kept him sharp and on his feet, he said.
For at least 15 years, Hauri has not only eaten his oatmeal, but also ensured Rock County residents could eat some, too, regardless of how much money they make.
Hauri donates $600 each year to the Beloit and Janesville Salvation Army chapters specifically for buying oatmeal, his daughter Betsy Sutherland said.
His donations have provided immediate relief for hundreds of people in Rock County who struggle with hunger, said Maj. Tom McDowell of the Janesville Salvation Army.
At its Others Luncheon on May 1, the nonprofit will give Hauri its Others Award for a lifetime of helping people, said Patrice Gabower, special events coordinator for the Salvation Army.
Hauri doesn’t love oatmeal solely for its chunky texture and mild flavor.
His affection for the breakfast food stems from his experiences in 1945 and 1946, when he was in the Army during the Allied occupation of Germany.
Hauri was a paratrooper in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.
While in Germany, he saw hundreds of hungry people, and those images have stuck with him to this day. Many German people ate potatoes all day long, but they were nowhere near as satisfying, easy to make and nutritious as oatmeal, Hauri said.
Hunger is a problem everywhere, including in Rock County, McDowell said.
The Salvation Army recently helped a woman who had not eaten for days because she was giving all the food she could gather to her children, McDowell said.
Hauri knows a thing or two about having mouths to feed. He and his late wife, Dolores, raised 14 children on their farm in the town of Rock, where Hauri still lives.
Gabower describes Hauri as “humble and kind.” For his part, Hauri gives credit for his accomplishments to his family, which has grown to include more than 100 people.
For 37 years, Hauri worked all day on his farm before working second shift at Fairbanks Morse in Beloit.
How did he manage to work two full-time jobs with a family of 16? Hauri said he did it with help from his kids.
Hauri has 127 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, Sutherland said.
Almost all of them get together for Christmas. The farthest distance anyone drives is from Rockford, Illinois—about 45 minutes from Janesville, Sutherland said.
Today, some of Hauri’s grandchildren help him volunteer for Meals on Wheels.
Hauri also funded Rotary Botanical Gardens’ “Where Tears Run Deep” pathway, which honors local veterans. His family helped him and garden staffers install the walkway, Sutherland said.
All 14 of Hauri’s children will attend the Others Luncheon in May to support their dad, filling multiple tables, Gabower said.
Sutherland, also known as “number nine” for her position in the family, said Hauri never forced his kids to eat oatmeal every day growing up.
But she firmly believes her dad is a testament to the importance of long walks and eating oats in a long, happy life.