Well-known beloved coach, teacher and former Union County Commissioner and orchardist, Lorence "Doc" Savage, 80, of La Grande, left his family and numerous friends when he passed away at his current residence on Saturday, August 17, 2013.
In 1933 Doc was born into a large family in St. Francis, Kansas to R.M. and Blanche Savage who migrated during the "Dust Bowl" catastrophe to Ontario, Oregon, where the family settled. Doc became a popular student and outstanding football and track athlete, graduating in 1951.
He continued his education at Eastern Oregon College and was named "Outstanding Football Player" 3 years running in the 1950's. Doc received the Eastern Oregon University's "Athletic Alumnus Award" in 1992.
Doc's teaching and coaching career began in Elgin in 1956 and continued to Redmond, Oregon, for 10 years until 1967, where he returned to La Grande as head football and track coach and taught many students political and behavioral science.
Doc turned the football program around and lead the team to many winning seasons, including the amazing State Football Championship in 1974. He retired in 1988, but continued his connection to the community by serving as Union County Commissioner for 2 terms; spearheading the building of the Chapin Building, which houses the county clerk, assessor, and planner offices. He also instigated changing the county court from a judgeship to a 3-member commission system and headed the Union County Planning Committees for several years.
Doc was also able to fulfill a lifelong desire to farm by establishing a successful fruit orchard providing many in the valley with terrific peaches, apples, cherries, from his home at the base of Mt. Emily.
In 1989 he married Mickey Corbat whom he lured from Corvallis, Oregon, where she managed healthcare at a large clinic, to eastern Oregon where she had a successful varied nursing career for many years.
Doc kept in touch and retained interest in all of his former students and colleagues to the point that store and restaurant visits often became long social events where he and friends would enjoy discussing many memories. Many whom he touched wanted to tell him how much he had added to their lives as an unusually kind, generous, competent and compassionate being.
In 2004, there was a surprise reunion of the 1974 State Championship Football team who gathered here and came from many miles and states far away to honor him and present him with a beautiful trophy naming him as "Coach of the Century". Doc, who is well known for his quiet modesty, was pleased and overcome.
Surviving "Doc" (so named by an Eastern Oregon College Coach, Roy Tatum, after a 1950's paper back hero, "Doc Savage – Man of Bronze") are wife, Mickey Savage of La Grande, Oregon; son Daniel Savage and his daughter, Alana Savage of Portland, Oregon; son David Savage and his children Alex and Anna Savage of San Diego, California; brother Vance Savage and his wife, Jill, of Omaha, Nebraska; stepsons Steve and Jon Tacy and families of Michigan.
He was preceded in death by his parents and 7 siblings.
A Celebration of the Life of Doc Savage will be held at the Lighthouse Church in La Grande on Saturday, September 28, 2013, at 2:00 P.M.
Memorial Contributions in memory of Doc may be made to Alzheimer's Association in care of Loveland Funeral Chapel, 1508 4th Street, La Grande OR 97850.
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