A popular Mission pastor who passed away in late March never lost his sense of humour, or his gentle charm.
Cecil Savage had lived in Mission for decades and was well-respected in the community, starting pastoring here in 1978 at the Mission Baptist Church. He was more widely known for his work as padre for the Mission branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, of which he was a lifetime member, participating in the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies, Canada Day, funerals and more.
Savage was born Oct. 14, 1925 near Toronto, Ont., said one of his sons, Darryl.
Savage joined the Navy during the Second World War and trained as an anti-aircraft gunner. He spent most of his service off the Atlantic coast on a number of ships, including the HMCS Uganda, searching for submarines.
After leaving the navy, he came to British Columbia where he met his wife of 49 years, Joan, and the couple raised five children. Joan died Oct. 9, 2008 after a short battle with cancer.
Savage earned his bachelor of theology from the Northwest Baptist Theological College in the mid-1960s while pasting at Renfrew Baptist in Vancouver. Years later, said Darryl, he earned an honourary doctorate from Northgate Graduate School.
He rarely shared this bit of personal information, Darryl recounted, because Savage would say with a laugh that if someone saw the degree they might ask him a question.
Five years after coming to Mission, Savage took on the pastorate of the newly formed Sovereign Grace Baptist Church. During this time, he fought and won a battle with cancer, and suffered several strokes. He continued his duties until 1996 when another stroke forced him to retire, and Darryl became the church pastor.
“Though no longer pastor, he was always available,” said Darryl. “I, along with so many others, continued to see him as a friend and mentor. He was always ready to give a helpful dose of wisdom and advice.”
Savage was well known for making himself available day or night for anyone, and for opening his home to someone in need.
This giving spirit led Savage to spend years counselling drug and alcohol addicts at Miracle Valley Treatment Centre, and in 1994, he opened the Christian Learning Centre to guide more people struggling with addictions, and to train others how to counsel and teach the Bible.
In February 2004, then-Mayor Abe Neufeld presented Savage with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his service to Mission and the country.
Savage was also a 50-year-plus member of the Loyal Orange Association and held the office of grand chaplain for several years, said Darryl. He was a member of the Queen Valley Lodge No. 3113 in Maple Ridge as well.
Savage passed away March 22.