Remembering John Savage

John Timothy Savage

68, succumbed to cancer on the solstice, December 21, 2019. Born in Bellingham, WA on June 28, 1951, he was the second of five children of Charles and Elaine Savage (Westman). John was proud of his family legacy; the Savages being among the first Skagit pioneer families, and the Westmans for their Christian musical ministry. John was molded by his early exposure to hard work and ever-present music.

As a boy, John watched his charismatic grandfather preach at the Assembly of God Church in Anacortes. He was often called to the pulpit to sing or preach and seemed destined become the family's next preacher. However, in the 1960s, John fell in love with blues, jazz and rock 'n' roll, and found his own path to preaching through music.

John attended Mt. Vernon High School (class of '69) where he and friends formed his first band, the Interstate Five. Just weeks before his death, John joined these same friends, his sons and grandchildren when the Savage Blues Band played at the Guemes Island Store. For musicians and audience alike, it was an unforgettable night.

John's musical education began at Oregon State University and was advanced by his amazing natural talent and curiosity in musical theory and structure. He became a musical phenomenon, mastering the guitar, upright bass, electric bass, piano and organ. He was also a strong vocalist, arranger, and prolific song writer.

Over the course of his life, John performed in scores of bands embracing many genres. Notable local projects included the Stonetones, Cruisers, Dillinger's Clambake, Frankly Moanin', Johnny & the Moondogs and the Savage Jazz Trio.

In addition to being a standout performer, John was also a popular instructor, teaching jazz and blues (instrumental) and vocal music at Skagit Valley College (24 years) and privately (35 years).

A handy sort of fellow, John also succeeded in many other professions during his lifetime, not the least of which was being a stay-at-home dad. He also served such worthy groups as the YMCA and the Manieri Endowment Jazz Advisory Committee, and often performed at charity benefits.

John is survived by his wife of 15 years, Deanne; his former wife, Margaret Becker; son Robert and wife Kazuko; son Tom and wife Rachel, grandchildren Maeva Moffitt and Teal Savage; stepson Ben Portis; sister, Rose Ellen Savage; brother Norm; sister-in-law, Cathy Savage, and numerous nieces, whom he adored. He now joins his father, mother, brothers Alan and Steve, and numerous friends in the mysterious beyond.

John's family extends heartfelt thanks to the legion of friends who helped with their daunting home-building project in 2019 and provided food and music therapy in John's final days.

Remembrances may be directed to
The Rexville Grange Preservation Fund,
c/o Breanna Savage,
17596 Valentine Rd., Mt. Vernon, WA 98273.

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