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Peter W. Sauer PhD
September 20, 1946 ~ December 27, 2022 (age 76) 76 Years Old
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Peter W. Sauer of Urbana passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, December 27, 2022. A church service will be held at 11:00 a.m. January 20th, 2023 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Urbana, IL. A time to greet the family will be from 10-11:00 a.m. prior to the service. Pete was born on September 20, 1946 in Winona Minnesota to Alfred von Rohr Sauer and Eleanor Sawyer Sauer, the fifth of six children. He is survived by his wife Sylvia Sauer and children, Katherine (Chris) McMahon and Daniel (Emily) Sauer. Also surviving are his grandchildren Evan and Tate Sauer, and Julian and Margot McMahon, sisters Sue (John) Feaster and Rachel (Fred) Hinz, and sisters in-law Laura (John) Sauer and Sue (Jim) Sauer. He was preceded in death by his parents, and siblings Mary Price, John Sauer, Jim Sauer, and nephew Tom (Jim and Sue) Sauer. Pete graduated from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1969 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. From 1969 to 1973, he was an electrical engineer for the United States Air Force. He then obtained his master’s and doctoral degrees in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 1974 and 1977 respectively. After graduation, Pete joined the faculty at the University of Illinois to teach courses and direct research on power systems and electric machines, retiring in January of 2020 after over forty years of service. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Air Force in 1998. At the time of his passing, Pete was the Grainger Chair Emeritus in Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a holder of the IEEE Lifetime Achievement Award. He also held various offices at Trinity Lutheran Church in Urbana. He continued to serve, educate, and conduct research throughout his career. It is impossible to capture all of Pete’s accomplishments here. Pete was once asked what he loved about engineering. His response included “I love that you get a chance to think big and think small.” As an educator and mentor, his favorite quote was “Students are candles to be lighted, not bottles to be filled” (adapted from Plutarch). He was a giant in his field. His work was known internationally. His humor allowed him to relate to people from different backgrounds. He appreciated the opinions of others and always shared credit with countless students and peers. He laid foundations for his students so they would build on what he taught them. The lessons Pete and Sylvia imparted to their children on a daily basis continue to have tremendous influence. With unending humility, he always attributed his success to Sylvia and his children. He understood that small thoughtful acts can create a world of impact. He thought big and he thought small. His legacy will continue because he used his gifts to quietly change the lives of countless people, one infamous smile at a time, across the globe. Given the magnitude of individuals Pete touched both professional and personally, a more expansive “celebration of life” will be held sometime in May of 2023, in Urbana-Champaign. Memorials may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church in Urbana where Pete helped build a strong foundation for continued service in the community, or to the Peter W. Sauer Scholarship fund at the University of Illinois College of Electrical & Computer Engineering that is supported by former students because of the lasting impact he has had on their lives. Trinity Lutheran Church: https://trinity-urbana.org/online-giving/ Sauer Power Scholarship: https://ece.illinois.edu/giving/ways-to-give