Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Teacher shared knowledge as polio survivor

Margaret L. Savage, 74, a longtime elementary teacher in the Toledo Public Schools who as a polio survivor helped educate others on symptoms that can occur years after recovery, died Monday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue.

She had been in ill health the last few months and had the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, her brother Robert Savage said.

Miss Savage of West Toledo retired more than a decade ago from her career - teaching fourth graders, first at Lincoln Elementary School, then at Nathan Hale.

"Her whole life was dedicated to bringing young people along," her brother said.

"She was motivated very heavily to try to inspire children who came from a background who might not get [inspiration] at home.

"She always had a twinkle in her eye and was always in a good mood," he brother added.

Miss Savage was 3 when she developed polio, and she was in the hospital for 2 1/2 years. She walked with a limp afterward, but "she functioned full-tilt at a normal pace as a schoolteacher," her brother said.

She was slowed later in adulthood by post-polio syndrome, which the National Institutes of Health says may cause new weakening in muscles, pain, and fatigue.

She educated herself about the condition and in turn, passed along information to health-care professionals at the former Medical College of Ohio and the University of Michigan Medical Center.

"She became really expert," her brother said. "She went up to Detroit and Ann Arbor and learned a great deal and then communicated with a lot of people."

In that - and in forming a post-polio support group - she showed the same tendencies as in her career, her brother said, "caring about the other person.

"She didn't think about Margaret," he said. "She thought about the other people she interacted with."

Miss Savage attended what was then called the Feilbach School for Crippled Children and Notre Dame Academy. She was a 1956 graduate of the former Mary Manse College.

Shortly after Miss Savage became ill, her mother, Kathryn, died. She was raised by her father, John, and her older sisters.

She spent after-school hours daily at her father's store, Savage Market, and remained close with her siblings and extended family.

In September, 2007, she joined 123 other relatives at the Savage family's triennial reunion.

"She was very popular with the nieces and the nephews because she would sit and ask them questions about what they were doing in school, like a good schoolteacher would," her brother said.

"As soon as you met her, you knew she was an outgoing person, and she would be interested in what you were doing and what you might dream of doing."

She was especially active in Gesu Church and helped run a group that made sure parishioners who could not attend church received communion at home.

Miss Savage requested that her body be donated to the University of Toledo medical school, formerly the Medical College of Ohio, so that more might be learned about post-polio syndrome, her brother said.

Surviving are her sisters, Marie Witherell, Frances Somers, Elizabeth Campbell, Ellen Wall, and Nancy Coyle, and brothers, James and Robert Savage.

The family will receive friends from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Sunday in the Ansberg-West Funeral Home. Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in Gesu Church.

The family suggests tributes to the church; the Ursuline Sisters; the Alzheimer's Association of Northwest Ohio; Hospice of Northwest Ohio, or a charity of the donor's choice.

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