Islander Herb Savage turned 90 earlier this year. Chances are even if you haven’t met him, you’ve probably walked into one of many structures he designed for the Deltona Corporation, back when Marco Island was developed in the early ‘70s. Savage has a knack for making friends and being a positive influence on the community, and his architectural designs are still seen today.
“I say ‘Good afternoon’ in the morning and ‘Good morning’ in the afternoon,” says Savage, about how he greets people he meets. “That gets people to talk to you.”
His friendly attitude is obvious, as Savage waves to customers walking into Shells by Emily, his wife’s shop on South Collier Boulevard. He designed the building they work in and his office is just across the hall from Emily’s. “We have lunch together every day,” adds Herb, who still courts his wife of 58 years with a song, and once even had a full quartet serenade her.
A true officer and a gentleman, Herb is a decorated colonel, retired from the United States Army. He’s the first to suggest singing “God Bless America,” at military services and remembrances, such as the annual 9/11 ceremony, something he did at the First Baptist Church of Naples last year.
In his office, Herb is surrounded by many honors he has received over the years. “I would say the one I am the most proud of is my military certificate,” he says. Herb was drafted at 21, right out of college. World War II had not started yet.
Following the war, Herb obtained an architectural degree from the University of Illinois. He then came back to his native Miami, where he met his first love, Emily, and the two became inseparable. Before moving permanently to Marco Island in 1978, Herb commuted from Miami to Naples twice a week, beginning in 1976, to design homes on Marco Island, along with his partner and friend, Jimmy Vensel, and the Mackle brothers. “We had 22 models of homes and we wanted to follow a Polynesian theme,” explains Herb, who was instrumental in the original design of the Marco Island Marriott.
Herb’s vision for Marco Island is full of influences from his travels, and his architectural designs remain constant, even though the infrastructure on Marco has evolved. “We’ve been around the world, from Greece to Hawaii and Sweden.”
Along with building homes, the Savages started a family together on Marco Island. Their daughter, Charlene, now lives in Atlanta; daughter Sharon is married and living in Ocala, Fla., and their son, Herb, is married and living in Chaumberg, Ill., just outside of Chicago.
Being patient is Herb’s motto for life. “Emily has been patient with me. I’ve not been easy to live with, and I always feel special with her.”