Roy J. Sauter, 92, formerly of Pillar Point and Black River

WATERTOWN, NY —  Roy J. Sauter, 92, formerly of Pillar Point and Black River, NY, died July 27, 2022, at his home at the Ives Hill Retirement Community.

Calling hours will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, at the Hart & Bruce Funeral Home, 117 N. Massey St., Watertown.

A Funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church.  Burial with military honors will be in Black River Cemetery.  A Celebration of Life will follow at the Black River American Legion.

Roy was born on June 19, 1930, in the town of Denmark, NY, son of Jacob and Grace Kline Sauter. He graduated from Lowville Free Academy in 1947and entered the US Army on Nov. 20, 1953. He served in Korea as a heavy equipment operator with the 341st Engineers and 560th Engineers and was honorably discharged on Nov. 1, 1955.

Roy entered the property and casualty insurance business at the Agricultural Insurance Company in Watertown NY in 1956. There he met Shirley J. Dillenback; they were married on Feb. 8, 1958, at All Saints Catholic Church in Chaumont, NY. The family moved to St. Paul, MN, in December 1959 where Roy opened a branch office of “The Ag”. In June 1961 they returned to northern NY, settling in Black River.

At the Agricultural Insurance Co. home office in Watertown, Roy rose to become Personnel Director, Eastern Division Underwriting Manager, and in 1973 was elected a Corporate Officer. In 1967 Roy earned the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) professional degree and then taught insurance classes in Watertown for more than 20 years. In 1976 Roy was one of several company officers who were instrumental in starting a new company, New York Casualty Insurance Company. Roy was named Vice President of Marketing and Sales, retiring in 1992 after 36 years in the insurance business.

Volunteering was an important part of Roy’s life. In Black River he coached Little League baseball, Pop Warner football, and served on the Boy Scout Committee. In 1971 he became a lector in the Catholic Church and joined the choir, serving nearly 50 years in two parishes. Roy was active in local government, serving 18 years as a Trustee and 3 years as Mayor of the Village of Black River. During his tenure as Mayor, he began the senior housing project known as Kamargo Housing Corp. and served on its Board of Directors. Roy was also a member of the Black River Volunteer Fire Department for 20 years and was named Fireman of the Year in 1976.

Roy was actively involved in the Carthage chapter of AFS, an international exchange program, from 1974 to 1985. Roy and Shirley served as host parents in 1979 to 80 to Doon-Louise Loosemore from Australia, with whom they still share a close relationship.

Roy’s other volunteer service included the Board of Directors/President of the Greater Watertown Chamber of Commerce; Board of Directors/Treasurer of Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Association; 20 years with Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE); and Board of Directors/President of the Cosmopolitan Dance Club, where he and Shirley were members for 35 years. Roy was a member of the Carthage VFW Post 7227 and the Black River Legion Post #673, where he was named Citizen of the Year in 1984 and was chosen for Honor Flight #10 in 2017.

When Roy retired from the insurance industry in May 1992, the first item on his “bucket list” was to build a permanent home on the shore of Lake Ontario at Pillar Point. With the help of family and friends, Roy and Shirley moved into that home in October 1992. In 1993 Roy went back to work as a Jefferson County Court attendant for 22 years. Roy also worked as a voting machine technician for the Town of Brownville for 15 years. He and Shirley found time to enjoy travels to Australia, Israel, Greece, Austria, and Switzerland, as well as Alaska and several other states.

Roy is survived by his wife of 64 years, Shirley, and their four children: Christine (Frank) Milligan, Geneva, NY; Thomas (Grace) Sauter, Wanakena, NY; Kathryn (Timothy) Hopseker, Brownville, NY; and Linda (Bill) Velto, Cary, NC; eight grandchildren: Maureen McCollum, Sean Britton-Milligan, Emily Sauter, Claire Sauter, Sarah Hopseker, Angela Hopseker, Alex Velto, and Margaret Velto; one great-grandchild, Olivia Veomett. His survivors also include sisters-in-law, Lucille Sauter, Lowville, NY, and Carolyn (Corky) Marlowe, Glen Park, NY, and several nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his sister, Mary, and brothers Gustave and Donald.

Roy was most especially proud of his children and grandchildren and their accomplishments. He cherished who they are and the many years he had with them. He enjoyed having his entire family gathered at the lakeshore, where he was always willing to roast marshmallows the size of baseballs over the fire pit.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Black River Fire Department, Black River Legion Post #673, Pillar Point Fire Department, and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church, Watertown NY.

Online condolences may be made at