There were few times on Saturday that the ballroom at the Hilton Resort failed to have either wall to wall smiles or laughter coming from it. The community had come together at high noon to celebrate the life and times of Herbert Rosser Savage, the man many had come to refer to as a visionary in the development of the island.
A longtime member of the Rotary Club of Marco Island-Sunrise, the club had been in the planning stages for his 100th Birthday, which was to be held on the same date. Savage would however pass five days before the event after an unfortunate fall at his home. He would be surrounded by friends and family the evening of his passing, which his wife Emily felt surely brought him comfort.
“Herb wouldn’t want to have missed his party, and today we provided him with a great celebration of his life,” said Jim Prange who cherished his memories of a man he considered a wonderful mentor and friend.
Local attorney and Master of Ceremonies for the event was Craig Woodward, who also was a longtime friend and member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Marco Island. He would announce to the 140 plus attendees that Savage’s home club would be honoring him by naming their Scholarship Fund the, Herbert R. Savage Scholarship Fund. This would be in recognition of Savage’s longtime support of promoting higher educational opportunities for youth in the greater Marco Island area.
Jim Stackpoole, former V.P. for the Deltona Corporation would entertain the group with stories of his initial meetings with Savage as a 24-year-old manager of the Island Country Club developed by the Stackpole would eventually become the manager of the Marco Beach Hotel and Villas, a building that Savage would take exceptional pride in.
The Mackle Brothers would send Savage and his wife Emily to Hawaii to look first hand at architecture in that area of the Pacific. He would come back from that trip with his vision for a Polynesian style of design that has been maintained as the entryway into what is now a JW Marriott property.
The celebration would continue as numerous members of the Marco Community would come forward to present recollections of their dealings with Savage. Newly elected City Council Chairman Erik Brechnitz would present a proclamation honoring Savage and his contributions to the community. County Commissioner Donna Fiala would also honor he friend and speak fondly of her love for both Savage and his wife Emily.
It would be the tributes given by his children, such as daughter Sharon Stewart which gave those that gathered to celebrate his life a better glimpse into who Hebert the father was, as she, her sister and her brother would reminisce about their dad and his love of his family and his unique ways of sharing that love and support.
However, it would be his loving wife Emily who would bring the crowd to its feet, as she would perform a solo performance in honor of her husband’s love for his community and country. With local entertainer Frankie Ray accompanying her on guitar, and with attendees joining with her in a rendition of the trademark presentation of God Bless America it was as if the “Colonel” was in the room for one last performance.