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Island pioneers Herb and Emily Savage honored at Historical Museum


Herb Savage was memorialized again on Wednesday afternoon.

The longtime Marco Island stalwart and original Deltona architect was already the name of a bridge, and Herb Savage Way, a back street behind Island Plaza. The latest honor to come his way is shared with his wife Emily, who sat beside him during a dedication ceremony at the Marco Island Historical Museum.

The “Modern Marco” exhibit at the museum was renamed in honor of Emily and Herb, before a crowd of about 80 well-wishers who came by to show their love and support for the couple who epitomize, lived through, and helped create much of the island you see today.

Marco Island Historical Society executive director Pat Rutledge welcomed the crowd and presented a bouquet of roses to Emily to commemorate the 68th wedding anniversary they had just celebrated. “Herb’s gift is Emily,” she said.

Rutledge introduced museum curator of collections Austin Bell, responsible for the design and creation of the Modern Marco exhibit, who noted that while he is 33 years old, and Herb Savage is 99, they actually share many similarities.

“We both graduated from the University of Florida – go Gators,” he said, and said both had gone through their first major hurricane in Florida – although in Savage’s case that was the epic Miami hurricane of 1926.

The audience also heard from longtime Marco attorney Craig Woodward, who runs a close second to Herb Savage as a repository of island history.

“We are fortunate to have Herb and Emily Savage living on Marco and linking us back to those exciting days when Marco Island was just a dream,” said Woodward. He noted that the tropical feel of the island’s style is largely due to the Savage influence, after the Mackle brothers sent their young architect and his wife on a discovery trip to Hawaii.

“This is my 50th year of living on Marco Island, and I understand that while those who found Marco only a few years ago can’t fully appreciate the contributions that Herb and Emily Savage have made to this island, I certainly do. To me, they represent the legacy of the Mackle brothers and the entire team that created Marco Island.”

As Rutledge noted, no public gathering with Emily and especially Herb Savage would be complete or even possible without an a cappella rendition of “God Bless America,” so with Herb conducting, while Emily spoke rather than singing her introduction due to a touch of strep throat, the entire roomful of people rose to their feet for a rousing song.

Then the Savages took seats of honor inside the exhibit now bearing their names, looking all the world like an animatronic display from Disney World, beaming and greeting all their friends, while the crowd milled about and read about how Marco Island came to be what it is today. Coffee and cupcakes were served in the lobby.

Col. Herb Savage served in the Army in World War II, and only closed his architecture practice two years ago, also when Emily closed up shop at Shells by Emily, her adjacent longtime shell shop.

Herb Savage’s 100th birthday is coming up on Jan. 6, and on Jan. 5 the Marco Sunrise Rotary Club will hold a luncheon in his honor at the Hilton hotel.



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