If you viewed Louise Bauer's life as snapshots in an album, you would find images of giving on every single page.
You would see her caring gently for her 85-year-old mother before and after the stroke that took the elder woman's life in 1983.
You would find her at a small jewelry shop in the Virgin Islands, purchasing a gold crucifix for her husband, Dr. John Bauer, a devout Catholic and anesthesiologist who wore it into surgeries for the rest of his career and until his death in 1995.
You would find images of Louise years later at the wheel of her red Volkswagen Cabrio, her signature red hair shining in the sun as she drove friend Anthony Amaranto and his brother – veterans of the Korean Conflict – down Grant Avenue in the Vandergrift Veterans Day parade. You would see her caring for Anthony as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases took their toll.
The album would also be filled with images of faith. You would see Christmas programs at St. Thomas Grade School in Braddock, where she sang "Silent Night" as a child. You would find images of Bible studies and religion classes at St. Thomas High School, where she listened with an attention to detail that has kept the lessons fresh throughout her life.
And you would see Louise now, at 73, receiving the sacraments frequently at Christ the King Parish in Leechburg.
"The Eucharist to me is a miracle every time I go," she says. "I think with Catholicism, when you're there, you really feel like you're with the Lord. The priests ... these fellas have come right from the apostles. Every time you go to Mass, you can receive the body of Christ, and that just does something for me."
A Heart of Gold A wellspring for her generosity, Louise's faith has inspired generous contributions to her churches and the Diocese of Greensburg – one of which was a bequest in her will.
"It's easy to give," Louise says. Asked whether she designates her gifts for particular causes, she replies simply, "Anything they would do to help people resonates for me."
Louise's daughter, Mary K. Canzano, is not surprised. "She's extremely giving – to the point where she puts everybody else before herself," Mary says. "A lot of her time is spent visiting people. She has always helped everybody."
Snapshots cannot depict the intangibles we call "heart" – the decisions that guide us as we decide where to spend our money and time. But if they could, you would get a glimpse of the picture Louise's family and friends see every day: Louise Bauer has a heart of gold.
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