Don Savage loved his family and the Chicago Bears and was incredibly loyal to both.
Mr. Savage, who passed away Dec. 11 at the age of 106, was the oldest and one of the longest tenured Bears Season Ticket Holders. According to his daughter, Ginny Warren, her father had Bears season tickets continuously since 1947.
"It didn't matter how hard it was to get there, he just had to be there," she said. "He wasn't about watching it on TV. It was about being in the crowd. He lived and breathed sports in general, but it was all about the Bears."
No one appreciated Mr. Savage's passion for the Bears more than team chairman George H. McCaskey.
"Don's loyalty to the Bears was legendary," McCaskey said. "He was one of the longest-tenured, if not the longest tenured, Season Ticket Holders in Bears history. We're grateful for his allegiance to his Bears, and he will be missed. Our condolences to his family."
Mr. Savage's loyalty extended beyond his Bears fandom. He was married to his wife, Theresa, for 72 years until she passed away in 2015 at the age of 92. And he worked at the same company, Gateway Building Products, for about 60 years, starting in the mailroom and retiring as a vice president in 1997 at the age of 80.
Mr. Savage is also a member of the Chicago 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame. He played on softball teams for 78 years from 1935-2013, winning 40 championships, and played or managed in about 35 senior leagues throughout Chicago and the suburbs.
According to his bio on the Chicago 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame website, he once played in a game with his right wrist in a cast because his team was a man short and got two hits to help them win a championship.
Mr. Savage attended Kelvyn Park High School on Chicago's North Side. He lived in Chicago's Sauganash neighborhood for 70 years and served as a head usher at the Queen of All Saints Parish for decades.
Mr. Savage began taking his daughter, Ginny, to Bears games when she was in grade school. One of the most memorable contests they attended together was the Fog Bowl. On Dec. 31, 1988, the Bears were hosting the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Divisional Playoffs when thick fog suddenly enveloped Soldier Field. In what is often referred to as "the best game no one ever saw," the Bears won 20-12.
"He always brought a portable TV to the games," Ginny said. "All of a sudden, the fog rolled in. It was so foggy we couldn't see the field. We decided to turn on the TV, but it was solid fog on television too. We sat there and laughed because why would we be able to see it better on a screen? We sat there and we weren't going to leave that game until it was over. We weren't going to budge no matter what."
Another memorable game was last year's season opener when the Bears beat the San Francisco 49ers 19-10 in a monsoon at Soldier Field.
"We got moved around because we had handicapped seats," Ginny said. "It was the first time in all these years we ended up under a little overhang. It started to pour and pour. We were laughing like two little kids and thinking how lucky we were."
That, no doubt, is exactly how those who knew Mr. Savage felt about having him in their lives. He is survived by his daughters Ginny and Peggy, six grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and dear friend Mary Ann Schoendorff.