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Lifelong Texan celebrates 101st birthday, 99-year-old 'baby' brother joins the party

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Gene Laue, Bandera County's oldest living WWII veteran and a lifelong Texan, celebrated his 101st birthday at Bandera Rehabilitation & Health Center (BRHC) on Friday, August 28, joined by his brother, friends and family, caregivers and fellow residents. Bandera Mayor John Hegemeier was among the local notables honoring the centenarian, proclaiming August 28, 2015, Gene Laue Day in Bandera.
"It was our privilege to mark this milestone birthday for Mr. Laue - a great Texan and lifelong citizen of the Lone Star State," said Brandy Puckett, administrator of BRHC.
The party included a festive cake, a balloon launch, and plenty of cowboy music.
Guests included Gene's almost 99-year-old brother, Charlie "Boots" Laue, of Lakehills, who still lives alone, with the help of family; children and other family members; representatives from the Bandera American Legion Post 157; and Father Allan Conkling, St. Christopher's Episcopal Church pastor.
Laue was born and raised in San Antonio. He and his wife, Eleanor, raised five kids. "He had two stepchildren and they were just like his own," said daughter, Sandy. In addition to the five children, Laue has eight grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren. Sadly, Eleanor passed away 10 years ago.
The Army veteran worked in dental supply during his World War II service, which led to his work as a dental supply salesman for many years, Mauer said.
The couple moved to Lakehills in the 1970s, quickly made friends and became involved in the community. They were active members of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Bandera. Laue also spent a lot of time helping to establish and grow the Medina Lake Volunteer Fire Department, which honored him for that work by naming him a Lifetime Member in the organization.
In addition to involvement with his church and the fire department, Laue supported the Lakehills American Legion Post 410, serving as post commander and working for the post's projects and fundraisers through many years.
He took pride in his Masonic traditions, being a Past Worshipful Master of Masonic Lodge #8 in San Antonio. "He was also a Shriner clown," said Mauer, raising funds for that organization's children's hospitals.
For fun, Laue liked to bowl and earned many San Antonio area championships in his younger days.
While Laue's physical health keeps him from being very active today, his mind is still sharp and he totally enjoyed his party, telling staffers at the rehab center to just "be sure to keep it to no more than an hour and a half."
Is there a secret to his longevity? Mauer answered that question by saying, "Well, he never smoked, but he definitely enjoyed his beer through the years."
Grandson David Mauer of Helotes said his grandfather always has the perfect quip for any situation. "One of my favorites that he used to say was 'that fits like a sock on a rooster.'" And, as a reflection of his love for a good cold brew, he often announces, "Water is for floating boats and running under bridges!"
No doubt being a loyal husband, good father, devoted Christian, and active supporter of community organizations doing good works also added a few years!