A History of Service

By on May 30, 2018
Bill Sauers

Bill Sauers

Bill Sauers is a Greece, New York native who knows a lot about the history of Greece, the long ago history, recent history and Greece’s current history in the making. As President of the Greece Historical Society, and a life long resident of Greece, Sauers is in the perfect position to know all about Greece.

Sauers grew up in the Dewey – Stone Road neighborhood. “Everything was in walking distance, you assumed that was how everyone lived. We had all the best of everything, a great Fire Department and Emergency Services, shops, schools, churches. It was all in the neighborhood. We could walk to wherever we were going. I graduated from Olympia High School in 1965 and at that time there was only one High School in Greece. Greece was growing so quickly that eight years later there were four High Schools for Greece students. In the early 60s Greece was building not individual houses, but streets of houses, a whole street would be built in a year,” Sauers said.

Sauers worked for the City of Rochester for 36 years. He started his career with the City in civil engineering as a draftsman. He retired as an engineer technician. He also served 38 years in the Army Reserve. Initially he served a six year commitment, after the six years he decided to re-enlist and 38 years later he retired from the reserves as a US Army, Sergeant Major. During his career in the Army Reserves he worked in Germany at a NATO School. “It was a great experience. I worked with 25 different countries and learned a lot about our world and different cultures,” Sauers said.

Bill and his wife Susan recently celebrated 50 years of marriage. They have two adult children Matthew, who lives in Brockport, and Michael, who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.

On April 26, 2018, the Greece Chamber of Commerce honored Bill Sauers with a Community Award presented to, “Remarkable individuals and organizations that have made a significant impact on the Greece region.” Bill was presented the 2018 History Award in recognition of distinguished service in preserving history for future generations.

Sauers’ interest in History developed when he started to research his great-grandmother, Anne Sauers, and her role in the running of a hotel on Edgemere Drive around 1920. Known then as the Outlet, the hotel was a popular retreat before Prohibition. “I did my research at libraries looking through old newspapers for stories,” Sauers said. He also did some traveling during his quest to learn the story. “Now people sit at home to do their research. They use the internet to find information. The truth is, although it might seem like it, everything isn’t on the internet. For me to travel and search for information was much more interesting. Genealogy is nothing more than historical research on your family. The ease with which you can do research today is the reason for the popularity,” Sauers said.

As Sauers’ interest in History grew, he visited the Greece Historical Society Museum. “I only live a block away from the Museum. I was a frequent visitor and eventually I was called to be a board member, which slowly evolved into becoming the Vice President and now I guess I am President for life,” he said.

He has been an active member of the organization since 1998. Serving as a board trustee since 2002, and holding the positions of publicity chairman, Vice President and as President since 2007. In his role as President of the Greece Historical Society he plans the monthly community programs, maintains the Society’s Facebook page and monthly e-mail blast. He is also a regular contributor to the Society’s newsletter.  He has presented several originally created history programs to dozens of community organizations.

Sauers is quick to point out, “It’s not just me.” He says the Historical Society is made up of many volunteers that are dedicated to keeping history alive.

Greece Historical Society Programs include their Tuesday Evening Lecture Series and Sunday Afternoon Programs. The Tuesday Evening programs are typically held at the Greece Public Library and feature local historians, authors and humanities scholars. The programs have earned a reputation for providing high quality, professional and entertaining history lessons.

One of the most popular programs presented was the History of the Odenbach Shipbuilding Corporation. “We had over 300 people who were interested in the program. I think it was because everyone was familiar with the building, they did not know the history. It was human curiosity. We ended up doing three presentations of the program in order to accommodate the overflow crowds that were interested in finding out about the former Greece Landmark Business,” Sauers said.

Other popular programs presented by the Greece Historical Society include “A Conversation with Harriet Tubman,” “Buffalo Soldiers,” “Rediscovering Frederick Douglass,” and “Blanche Stuart Scott: America’s First Aviatrix.”

The Greece Historical Society is an all volunteer organization that defines their purpose as, “To collect, preserve, research and share local history with the community. The goal is to provide the community with an awareness of the past, an appreciation of the present and a vision for the future, giving a sense of roots and a greater feeling of belonging.” Since 1988 the Historical Society and Museum has been located in the former home of Gordon Howe, former Greece Town Supervisor for 26 years. The 1855 farm house was restored by the Society and sits on a one acre parcel of land leased from the Town of Greece and located on the Greece Town Campus. The house is owned and maintained by the Society and is supported mostly through memberships, donations and occasional grants from the state.

In addition to active participation in the Greece Historical Society, a few of Sauers’ other affiliations and memberships include, Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse Historical Society, the New Society of the Genesee, Friends of the Greece Public Library, Rochester Genealogy Society, Northwest AARP, Landmark Society of Western New York, and is a life member of the U.S. Army Non-Commissioned Officers Museum.

Sauers feels the success of the Town of Greece is due to an active community of volunteers. He said, “What I like best about Greece are the many organizations and volunteers that make up the Town. They are truly the heart of the community. The people of Greece give of their time and talents and it is what makes everything work here. We have a history of volunteerism.”

For more information on the Greece Historical Society, their programs and volunteer opportunities visit www.greecehistoricalsociety.org

Photos by Karen Fien

Greece Historical Society presented "Rochester's Public Market". Jim Farr, Director of the Market for the City of Rochester pictured above with Bill Sauers. Farr talked about the Markets past, present and future to a full house on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at the Greece Public Library.

Greece Historical Society presented “Rochester’s Public Market”. Jim Farr, Director of the Market for the City of Rochester pictured above with Bill Sauers. Farr talked about the Markets past, present and future to a full house on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at the Greece Public Library.

Members of Rochester’s original 19th Century baseball clubs pose for a group photo following an exhibition game at the Greece Historical Society on May 14, 2016. The game was co-sponsored by the Rochester Baseball Historical Society.

Members of Rochester’s original 19th Century baseball clubs pose for a group photo following an exhibition game at the Greece Historical Society on May 14, 2016. The game was co-sponsored by the Rochester Baseball Historical Society.