Wyatt Savage honoured for six decades of service

Photo: Matthew McCully
Matthew McCully
Staff Writer

As Wyatt Savage celebrated his 89th Birthday, he was honoured by the congregation of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Lennoxville for his 60 years of service as an elder with the parish this past Sunday.
“He thought he would be recognized during coffee hour,” said Wyatt’s wife Louise. “We thought it would be very low key.”
To their surprise, friends and family made their way from afar on Sunday as a surprise to thank Wyatt and Louise for their service to the church and also the community.
Their granddaughter from Cambridge, Ontario stayed hidden away in a hotel in town to surprise them on Sunday.
“We were most happy to honour him and his wife,” said Reverend John Barry Forsyth. “It was a wonderful celebration,” he said.
“It’s quite unprecedented to serve that long,” Forsyth added, saying that Wyatt was only 29-years-old when ordained as an elder 60 years ago.
“He’s a great blessing.”
Wyatt said that he has served under six different ministers during his tenure as an elder at St. Andrew’s.
He was first approached by Hugh Rose in 1953 to teach Sunday school; three years later he was asked to be an elder.
“Like anything you take on, there are always some responsibilities that come with it,” Wyatt said.
His responsibilities included assisting with communion four times per year, and also touching base regularly with parish members in his charge.
“You see that they are well, and see if there is any help the church could offer,” Wyatt explained.
“The big calamity of my 60 years was the big wind storm in 1999,” he said, “It practically blew the roof off the building.”
At the time, the church was located on Frontenac Street in Sherbrooke.
“The old church could seat 400; we were about 50 in it at the time,” he said, which prompted some difficult discussions about how to proceed with repairs to the building after the storm.
“The lord works in mysterious ways, I guess,” Wyatt said. After close to five years of meetings and discussion, it was decided to build a new church, where the congregation now meets, located at 256 Queen Street.
Louise pointed out that had it not been for the storm prompting the construction of a new, smaller and more efficient building, there likely wouldn’t be a congregation today.
According to Wyatt, the insurance from the old building balanced out the new construction.
All the furniture and contents that were salvageable from the building, including a number of stained glass windows, were stored in various locations, and then incorporated into the new church.
“Everybody was so kind,” Louise said, explaining that many community members made space to house furniture.
While the congregation was without a space of their own, Wyatt said St. George’s opened its doors to them.
When asked how the role of an elder has changed over the years, Wyatt referred to the busy lives people lead today.
“Young couples are on the run all the time,” he said, with both parents working, and sports and other events scheduled for kids on weekends.
Ice time at the local arenas, a challenge to book for kids, often clashes with church services and Sunday school.
“Every church we talk to, the young people just aren’t coming,” Wyatt said.
“There’s not a lot you can do, really. You welcome them when they come.”
Since they moved to Lennoxville in 1972, Wyatt and Louise have remained involved in the community. While Louise made it a priority to care for the household, her support is inextricably linked to Wyatt’s work at St. Andrews, as well as his time volunteering at Community Aid, Uplands, the masons and the snowshoe club.
“I find it good to do things for people. It’s just rewarding to know you helped someone out,” said Wyatt.
He finds time, even with all his commitments, to enjoy his pastime as a musician. Wyatt plays guitar in a group called The Late Bloomers, playing at local seniors’ residences and small gatherings.
When asked if his 60-year recognition as an elder was in effect his retirement, Wyatt admitted he is slowing down, but still has a hand to lend. “As long as I can help,” he said.