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Reflections on the Life of Toy D. Savage Jr.
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Delivered by VBA Past President Hugh L. Patterson at the first VBA Past Presidents dinner, April 19, 2018.

Toy D. Savage, Jr. joined the Virginia Bar Association in 1948, served as its President in 1969-1970 and died on December 7, 2017, at age 96 as its most senior living past president.

I met Toy Savage for the first time as a summer associate at Willcox & Savage in 1964. He was a friendly and outgoing person with an affable smile and great wit. He was also a longtime next-door neighbor of Ralph Douglass, who was my wife’s grandfather. Their association led to my summer employment as a second-year law student at the University of Virginia.

Toy Savage was a namesake partner and guiding force for almost 70 years in the Willcox & Savage firm founded by his father and which later merged with the firm of his friend Thomas Willcox, Jr. in 1958. A Savage has been practicing at the firm for more than 115 years, except for a short break during World War II while Toy was serving in the Navy. He specialized in corporate, tax and estate planning law and served as an adjunct professor at William & Mary Law School and a tax law lecturer at William & Mary, the University of Virginia and New York University. Toy worked until the day he died, not because he had to but because he enjoyed what he was doing. A lot of that dedication came from the relationships he developed over the years while leading the firm. All of his friends were clients and all his clients were friends.

Toy particularly loved The Virginia Bar Association, which was perhaps a somewhat less serious and more social organization in his day. I know that he and some of the VBA presidents that followed closely behind him, such as Waller Dudley, John Davenport, Bud Getty and Gib Harris, to mention a few, were all great friends and others were as well and these friendships, like those of persons in this room, are what has kept The Virginia Bar Association so strong over the years.

Toy had a great variety of interests. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1954 to 1964 and at the end of 10 years, determined to focus more time on the Hampton Roads community. He chaired the Norfolk Medical Center Commission that led the efforts to create a third medical school in Virginia, and in 1964 helped craft legislation that created the Eastern Virginia Medical Authority, the forerunner of the Eastern Virginia Medical School. He also served as a Director of Sentara Healthcare for 54 years (President from 1966 to 1968), as a Director of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation for 38 years (five as Chair), and as a Trustee of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Chrysler Museum for 10 years, to name just a few of his community endeavors. All of this is to say that while he had no particular passion for medicine or the arts, he really wanted to do whatever he could to make life better for everyone in his community. Just before he died, he shared with me his ideas to try to forge a closer partnership between Sentara and the Eastern Virginia Medical School to further joint research and medical expansion efforts. Toy was a strategic thinker who promoted projects with long-term community impact and looked for solutions to the most pressing community problems.

We will miss Toy as a partner at our law firm. He mentored many of our most senior lawyers, who would all agree that we have been the beneficiaries of Toy’s wise counsel and good judgment throughout our entire careers. I shared a sandwich at lunch with Toy the day before he died, and the two of us enjoyed what was to be our last, good, friendly conversation. It was a great privilege and honor for me to have been Toy’s partner and friend.

One final note you might find interesting is that Toy never broke a bone, had surgery or spent a night in the hospital during his 96 years and died in his sleep on December 7. We should all be so fortunate.

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