TOWN OF ROCK
Harry Hauri was headed home after World War II. He had been in Germany as the war ended, a paratrooper who never saw battle.
“I was so happy to get on that train,” the 93-year-old said in a recent interview in his kitchen, surrounded by family members, including two great-grandchildren.
His happiness at going home stayed with him as his train traveled through France. Then he saw a cemetery where war dead were buried.
“I felt real bad,” he said. “I could go home, but they could not go home.”
Hauri did not forget that feeling. Years later, he and his family donated and helped build a brick walkway at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville that features memorial bricks for families who had lost loved ones in the nation’s wars.
They called it “Where Tears Run Deep.” The path has bricks marking various wars, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Janesville American Legion Post recognized Hauri’s effort with a certificate in 2009:
“Your efforts ensure those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice will always be remembered, and their families will know that their gift was not in vain.”
“Where Tears Run Deep” was not Hauri’s only civic-minded effort. He has been a constant contributor to the Salvation Army over the years. He says he saw hunger in post-war Europe, and he wanted to keep people here from suffering those pangs.
Hauri also helped deliver Meals on Wheels to shut-ins for nine years, working with his daughter Chris Janisch and grandson Brandon Hollibush. They had to stop deliveries during the pandemic, but Hauri said he wants to get back to making the deliveries and talking to people who enjoy his company.
Hauri’s parents were Swiss immigrants who moved from Green County to Rock County when he was a teen. He completed eighth grade and then began his full-time career as a farmer on his parents’ dairy farm, where he lives to this day.
There were no school buses in those days, so his eighth-grade teacher offered to let him live with her so he could attend high school, but he was needed on the farm, he said.
After the war, he worked 37 years as a machinist for Fairbanks Morse in Beloit, making pistons for engines that drove nuclear submarines, he said. He also maintained the farm with the help of his wife, Dolores, and their 14 children.
Harry was drafted and went to Europe with the 82nd Airborne Division in 1945. He had volunteered for paratrooper training, which came with an extra $50 a month, a lot of money in those days, he said.
Teresa Nguyen of Janesville heard about Hauri from photographer Pat Sparling, who had befriended and photographed Hauri on his daily walks.
Nguyen interviewed and wrote about Hauri for the Rock County Historical Society, and she was impressed with his humility and service to his country and community.
Nguyen, who writes profiles of local people for her online Janesville Area Stories website, suggested the Parkview School District honor Hauri.
So today, Friday, May 28, Hauri is scheduled to receive an honorary high school diploma during Parkview’s graduation ceremony.
Hauri said he wants to dedicate the award to that teacher who offered him a place in her home so many years ago, “so up there, she can smile,” he said. “It was awful nice of her to offer it to me.”
Hauri hoped he wouldn’t have to speak at the ceremony and didn’t really want an article full of praise for him.
“But those in the service that gave their lives, those are the ones you should be talking about,” he said.