Ernie Savard was a smiling, ever-gracious gentleman.
He was passionate about contributing to society in a variety of capacities, as an alderman, school board trustee and leader of Friends of the Grotto.
He chaired the Barbershop Singers Toy Drive, directed the Children’s Aid Society and worked with other groups like the Lockerby Playground Association, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Knights of Columbus.
He will be missed by these communities and more.
On Oct. 28, 2011, the 89-year-old Savard died at Finlandia Village.
Father Ronald Perron of Ste-Anne-des-Pins said the community lost “a very joyful person.
“He really got involved with the community and gave a lot of himself to the community,” Perron said.
After growing up in a local orphanage, Savard went on to become a businessman in the community, letting his spirituality lead the way.
According to Perron, Savard “was a man of faith.” He was a “devout Roman Catholic,” attending St. Patrick’s Church.
That’s where his inspiration to aid the Grotto came from.
“He believed the mountain, as he called it, is a place of peace and prayer,” Perron said.
According to The Grotto of Sudbury’s website, Savard was a “true friend” of the place.
“When you mention Ernie Savard’s name today, you automatically think of The Grotto,” the website stated.
When vandals attempted to steal the statue of Mary in 1993, Savard and a group he was part of called Friends of the Grotto, became heavily invested in bettering the place.
Savard, as well as fellow Knights, “devoted their lives to keeping the Shrine clean and trimmed so that people of the area and tourists from around the world can enjoy the splendour of this site,” the website stated.
Perron said Savard would bring volunteers and guests to the Grotto, for spiritual reasons like saying the rosary, and for “hands-on” reasons, like cleaning the area, fundraising and beautifying.
“It’s surprising how many people come up here,” Savard said in a piece on the Grotto website. “People are looking at the Blessed Mother and it is as though she is saying, bring this place back to life.”
When he wasn’t involved in his various volunteer roles, Savard was a family man.
He and wife Marion, who died in 2003, had four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.