Hanna moved to the Fellowship with her husband Uwe, and lived here for many years before passing in June 2022. Fellowship Co-worker Rachel Batzell remembers her fondly in this biography that she wrote of Hanna's life.
Hanna was born on September 1, 1929, to Arthur and Maria Sauter. She was the middle child. Her brother Arthur was 2 years older and her sister Sigrid was about 5 years younger. She remembered when Sigrid was born on a sunny day in February, the midwife came out and said, “you have a sister.”
Her grandfather on her mother’s side died young of a heart problem and her grandmother was left alone with 6 children. She was a very strong woman. One of her aunts was named Dehanna. One of her uncles went out without a coat in winter and got very sick. He said, “Next time I’ll wear a coat.” He died in his sleep. Her grandmother on her Father’s side had weak bones. Hanna inherited this. Hanna’s father was a pharmacist and her mother owned a food store. Her father died in his 50’s. Hanna’s brother was deeply wounded in the war with Poland.
Hanna grew up in Singen, Germany, by the mountains of Switzerland. They used to say the people of Singen had one foot in Germany and one foot in Switzerland. At age 7 Hanna went to a neighbor’s house to do Eurythmy. She walked there by herself. In the lady’s house she saw many lovely things including beeswax fairy tale figures. Around this time they played a game called the Seven Dwarves. The doctor in town lent her a tailor-made costume. She felt very special. Her parents were very kind and loving. As an adult she worked in the family pharmacy as a Pharmacy Technician.
Hanna’s husband, Uwe-Henry Sohnrey, lived in America and owned a deli in Lodi, NJ. In the early 70’s, he went to visit his sister in Ludwigsburg, Germany, where his brother-in-law was the mayor. Hanna took vacation at the same time and they met there. When Uwe returned to the states there was a lot of letter writing and Uwe made many trips to Germany to court Hanna. They were married in 1975, and Hanna was in her 40’s. She was Uwe’s 2nd wife and they all remained friends.
Hanna and Uwe lived in Chestnut Ridge. Hanna described Uwe as a non-talker. He was 2 ½ years younger than Hanna. They were very involved with Anthroposophy and were members of the Christian Community Church in New York City with the priest Gisela Wilke. They attended study groups and were both patients of Dr. Scharff which is how they were introduced to the Fellowship. Hanna has been a patient of Dr. Karnow for the past 20 years.
In the 1980’s they moved to Fair Oaks, CA, with the intention of starting an Anthroposophic nursing home, but it didn’t work out. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s they moved back and forth from Chestnut Ridge to Fair Oaks. When they settled back in NY, they moved into the Fellowship, Lady Slipper Lodge. They volunteered in the bakery. Uwe worked in the Foundation Office doing the accounting. Every year they attended summer classes at Bard College. When Uwe’s health began to fail he moved to Hilltop in 2010, and Hanna soon followed. Uwe died in 2013.
Hanna was a classic melancholic. Whenever one asked her how she was she always said, “terrible.” Quite often she said it with a smile on her face. She delighted in having a bad day. She suffered a lot of arthritic and orthopedic pain in many joints and other health challenges. In later years her head was permanently tilted to the right. She never lost hope that she could overcome her illnesses. She had bad heart conditions running in her family, but she refused to take allopathic medicine for her heart condition. She said that she took Weleda’s Cardiodoron faithfully for 40 years and her heart should be ok. She always preferred to take natural medicine over allopathic. She was very sensitive to medicine, food, temperature, sound, light.
Hanna liked everything to be neatly in order and everything to be done precisely at the time you had told her. If it didn’t happen exactly like that then it was a failure of the people caring for her. And her Virgo preciseness dictated that she would question every detail of every day to get to the bottom of why events hadn’t gone exactly as planned. She would recite the downfalls many times to many different people for many days until the next calamity came along.
Hanna had a kind heart. She was very close with a few people. I remember her friendship with Carl Fili. He used to sing to her every night after supper on the way to their rooms for the night. I rarely saw her smile like she did when he sang. Her whole face lit up! She did enjoy the attention and camaraderie.
Hanna crossed the Threshold at the beginning of St. John’s Tide at 1:30 am on Saturday, June 25, 2022.
To make a gift to the Fellowship Community in honor of Hanna Sohnrey please visit