Memorial for Will Savadge is Monday, July 8
A memorial service for longtime Hudson resident Will Savadge will be Monday, July 8, at Trinity Lutheran, Sixth Street, at 2 p.m. It will be offered by Rev. Dan Bruch.
Willis Drewelle Savadge of Willow Ridge, Hudson, died Tuesday afternoon, May 14, at Red Oak Rehabilitation Center, ten days after surgery for a broken hip. Famously reticent on the subject of his age, he was six and a half months past his 100th birthday.
"He was a trusted and respected friend," said John Marnell, a longtime friend. "I admired his wisdom and his sage advice."
Marnell, received much of that advice in letters. Savadge was an avid correspondent, communicating with friends and family frequently. His daughters often received two letters a week from their dad. Marnell assembled all of the letters he received from Savadge, combined with photos into a book for Savadge's family.
"He would let me beat him in golf once and awhile," said Marnell. "He enjoyed helping people in his own way. That led him to correspond with individuals he had helped in other parts of the world and nation."
Will moved to Hudson in the summer of 1979 to become General Manager of Duro.
Born in Brookside, N.J., on Oct. 26, 1912, Savadge was the first son of Willam Wortman and Maude Roberts Savadge. Step-siblings, Gladys and Irving, and siblings, Mildred Nixon, Kenneth, Helen Weiss, Doris Spooner, Arthur, and twin brother, Wesley, preceded him in death. Following the deaths of his father, and then his mother, he put himself through community college and transferred to Columbia University while helping to rear and educate his younger siblings. In New York City he lived at the famed New York residence, International House, where he met his future bride, Johnnie June Cone. They were married in Portland, Ark., on May 27, 1941.
Twin daughters were born in New York in 1942 before a promotion at Union Camp took the family to Detroit, Mich., where daughters, Deborah and Helen were born. During subsequent assignments in Chicago and New York, the family lived in Lake Forest, Ill., where Will became an avid golfer, Princeton, N.J., and Long Grove, Ill., where he was a tenor soloist in the community church choir, and Rolling Meadows, Ill., where he retired for the first of four times.
After moving to Hudson and improving morale, productivity and safety records at Duro Bag, he retired again, only to discover he didn't like retirement any better the second time. He served as vice president of Viking Paper in Minneapolis, before leaving to form his own brokerage firm, Hudson Paper.
Always a voracious reader and sports fan, Will was active with Rotary, where he was a Paul Harris fellow, and in local and state politics. He served on the boards of the Hudson Hospital and The Phipps Center, and founded the Philosophical Gentlemen, a social and philanthropic group, known as the PGs.
It was Rotary that connected Savadge with Hollis Grubb, whose wife Sylvia was a member of the same club. That was in 1992.
"We had lunch together many times and it eventually led to him inviting me to play golf," said Grubb. "Then he kept inviting me to play."
According to Grubb, Savadge was a quick wit on the golf course and was always betting on something even if it was just for a quarter.
"His generosity in Hudson was done in small and large ways," said Grubb. "One day we were golfing and he told me to pull over into another fairway where a couple of young guys were golfing. He gave each of them a sleeve of high quality golf balls and drove off."
"He was a stickler for obeying the rules of golf and Will would always follow them himself. He was never late and he wanted people to dress properly for golf."
As to his larger spirit of generosity, according to Grubb, Savadge was responsible for the successful creation of the Trinity Church's Campus on Badlands Road.
"I introduced him to Dan Bruch, who was with Trinity at the time," said Grubb. Savadge ended up buying the entire farm. "Will said 'take what you want (of the land)' and with that our financial problems with the land were gone. Trinity was then in good shape to go ahead with the project."
Over the years, Grubb and Savadge spent a lot of time together and continued to communicate by phone when each went south during the winter.
"For Will, following the stock market was a very important part of his life," said Grubb. "It was not only for the money but for his mind. It was fun for him to research companies. It was an outlet for him. Something he was active in on a daily basis."
An athlete and passionate golfer nearly to the end of his life, he thrice scored holes in one. A lover of word play, crosswords and rhyme, he wrote and published, "Princess Helene, a story in verse," and "The Covered Bridge," a collection of poems.
Last July, his beloved bride of 71 years preceded him in death, as had daughters, Judith in 2000 and Barbara in 2007.
He is survived by daughters, Helen of Foxfyre Ranch, Princeville, Hawaii, and Deborah, a playwright, of New York City, grandchildren, Miles Horton, an attorney in Chicago, Heather Horton, an associate professor at SUNY-Albany, Macauley Peterson, a journalist, of Hamburg, Germany, and Jed Peterson, an actor, of New York City, son-in-law Geoff Peterson, granddaughters-in-law, Jen Bosworth, Isabelle Delemarre, and Sarah Gosnell, nieces Brenna Weiss, Suzanne and Kiryo Spooner and Beth Meeks and nephew, David Savadge, and by four grandnieces and a grandnephew. He looked forward to the birth of his first great-grandchild, due in September.
Will bequeathed his body to the Mayo Foundation for educational research. A service will take place later at the Hilltop Church in Mendham, N.J.
In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes contributions to the Will and June Cone Savadge Memorial Fund at the Hudson Library. Make checks payable to the Bridge the Gap Fund, Hudson Library, 700 First Street, Hudson, Wisconsin, with Savadge Fund on the memo line.