May 9th marked the seventh anniversary of the death of my father, Robert Frederick Savadge. It seems almost incomprehensible that it has been seven years, but the calendar doesn’t lie. To mark the occasion, I am re-publishing Pop’s obit, as I have done once before. Yes, I know it already exists on this site, but it has become buried by other posts. I guess “buried” is a poor choice of words.
However, before I continue, you should know a little about the man. Pop (or Fred as I sometimes called him) was one of the most intelligent humans I have ever encountered. If fact, he may have been the most intelligent. Generous to a fault, Pop also had a great sense of humor. He wrote his own obit many years before his death, but by 2008 much of the information was no longer accurate. So I did a re-write. I also added the part about the Little Orphan Annie Flying Club (aka LOAFC), the story of which had become a euphemism for any situation or circumstance delivering extreme disappointment.
Pop struggled in the 20 years after leaving ARAMCO and Saudi Arabia. He couldn’t understand why prospective employers didn’t scoop him up. His expectations for his worth as an employee outstripped the market demand. So he burned through his savings in those post Saudi years, relying on a modest stipend from Social Security when the savings ran out. As smart and successful as he was, Pop just couldn’t find his rhythm; It was a sad dance to watch. And since I had a growing family during those post Saudi years, I wasn’t able to help Pop financially, although he wouldn’t have taken it anyway.
Prior to leaving ARAMCO (1986?), Pop turned over a large part of his assets, the house in Savannah and a fairly substantial investment account, to my mother, Theresa Annette Canulli Savadge. My parents didn’t live together, but they never divorced. Pop always said that my mother was the only woman he ever loved, even though she treated him like shit. My mother didn’t work, so she relied on the income generated by the investment account to pay her living expenses. Not that she wasn’t capable of work and in fact she did work when I was very young. Mom simply chose not to work. She claimed that Pop wouldn’t let her get a job as he was an extremely jealous man and thought she couldn’t be trusted in a workplace. I think she didn’t get a job because doing so would cut into her social life.
So here’s Pop burning through the rest of his savings, taking the rare job to put a few dollars in his pocket, while my mother travelled to North Carolina with friends to play bridge and/or just to “hang out” several times a year. She was always hitting Pop up for money, even though she had the bulk of his assets under her control. When times got really hard for Pop, he would reach out to my mother for help. It was a tough thing for him to do, but he swallowed his pride and made the call anyway. And with every call, he got a “no”, followed by several minutes of my mother telling Pop what a miserable failure he had become. Or some variation of the theme. [An aside: For 15 months, from July 2013 to October 2014, I had a job in North Carolina, 4 1/2 hours away from Savannah. Since I was so far away, I had to establish a second household, creating a huge amount of financial pressure. There were several “no bonus” months during that time that forced me to ask for financial help from my current wife. I was never told “No”, but the help came in dribbles. I equate it to pissing on a forest fire].
My mother felt entitled to Pop’s money and had a philosophy of “heads I win, tails I win”. And while I witnessed some of this bizarre behavior first hand, I never truly understood the source of her anger and resentment towards Pop. The final, and most vicious, slap in the face happened in the closing months of 2000 (Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in June 2000 and died in October 2001). As she met with her attorney and laid out her will and estate plan, Mom made it clear that Pop was not to get the Savannah house nor a dime of the investment account she held most dear. And in spite of my often adversarial relationship with mother, I agreed to honor her wishes. After she died, I made sure that Pop got nothing. Instead Pop and I lived in the Savannah house for nearly 4 years, until I sold it in 2005. I took the proceeds and bought a larger house on Burnside Island in Savannah. Pop lived in a garage apartment out back. The arrangement worked fine until the day he died and I was lucky to have him so close for so many years.
My parents had a textbook toxic marriage. I suppose that’s why I write about Pop and not my mother, as Mom and I shared a similar toxic relationship. So with all that said, here’s the obit:
Robert Frederick Savadge
SAVANNAH – Mr. Savadge, who was younger than he looked, left us to be with the Lord on May 9, 2008 after a lengthy illness. At the time of his death, Mr. Savadge was under the kind and capable care of Hospice Savannah. A son, Robert, two grandsons, Brian and Patrick, two step-grandsons, Michael McGuire and Mark Rich, step great-grandson Harrison Buchanan, a daughter-in-law and caregiver, Janet, niece and godchild, Joann, and two brothers, Edgar and Jes, survive him. Mr. Savadge’s wife, Theresa, predeceased him in 2001. A resident of Savannah, Mr. Savadge had been a government planning-analysis specialist and former executive director of the Metropolitan Planning Commission. After operating his own consulting business for several years, he spent ten years with the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO), in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. After retiring from ARAMCO in 1985, Mr. Savadge became a planning and operations consultant for private and government clients in the US, Europe, Middle East, and Far East. While performing his overseas work assignments, Mr. Savadge occasionally acted as a consultant for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). His family enjoyed hearing colorful stories of his travels and the people and cultures he encountered along the way. Details of his exploits with the CIA remain sketchy, however. Educated in government and city planning at the University of South Florida and the Graduate School at Georgia Tech, he received supplementary training in petroleum and civil engineering, material logistics, architecture and the fine art of humbuggery. Mr. Savadge was a charter member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, the American Planning Association, and a life-long member of the Little Orphan Annie Flying Club, the author of several copyrighted works on planning and land use regulation, and a self-proclaimed master in procrastination. At his specific and adamant request, Mr. Savadge will be cremated. Since his greatest fear in life was not death, but ending up interred in a bowling trophy on someone’s mantel, his cremains will be scattered over several of his favorite places. These include a family burial plot in New Jersey, the beach on St. Simons Island and across Lake Zurich, Switzerland. A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at Fox and Weeks Funeral Directors Hodgson Chapel. In lieu of flowers, Mr. Savadge suggests one or more of the following: buy a good book (and share it), treat a homeless person to a good meal, donate generously to Hospice Savannah, and finally, spend time with someone you love. The latter is especially important because when all is said and done, your time is the most precious gift you can give. In closing, Mr. Savadge asks that if you can say something nice about the man, please do so as it will be greatly appreciated