Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Ellen Savage Wall, 1928-2013: Woman helped keep her 8 siblings together


Ellen Savage Wall, center front.


Ellen Savage Wall, who pitched in to keep her siblings together after their mother’s death then forged close ties to their children while doing her part in service to church and community, died Monday in Kingston Residence of Sylvania. She was 84.

She moved to Kingston from her West Toledo home about a year ago after a hip fracture, her daughter, Beth, said. She was in declining health.

She was born Feb. 24, 1928, to Kathryn and John M. Savage, the fourth of what would be nine children. Her father’s grocery was among the first in the area devised to be self-service.

She was 9 when her mother died. Her father was intent on keeping the family intact. The older girls, she among them, did a lot of the cooking, her daughter said. They cared for the younger children, and everyone helped out at the store, where they learned the basic rules of business and life, their father told The Blade in 1959.

“There is one thing the store taught the children, and that was how to meet people, talk with them, and understand them,” the elder Mr. Savage said.

Times were hard, her daughter said.

“They just did what they needed to do to get by every day, and they did what they were told,” she said. “There’s a real sense of family there and taking care of each other.”

Some of her siblings had children before she and her husband did, and she helped them, her daughter said.

“She was always the fun aunt, the aunt who was always laughing,” her daughter said. “But she would always keep them in their place.”

And so one of them sent her a broom in the mail. One came up with a moniker that stuck, “Mean Old Aunt Ellen.”

“She loved the fact that they cared enough to give her a nickname,” her daughter said. “They knew they could get away with naming her that. She loved that title.”

The Savage siblings and their large extended family hold triennial reunions. Two of her brothers were in the public eye for decades, and she embraced their achievements; John F. Savage, a business executive, public speaker, and University of Toledo trustee, who died in 1993, and Robert Savage, co-founder with John of a financial services firm and a business leader who was a former Toledo vice mayor.

They were still her little brothers, her daughter said.

“She didn’t treat them any different,” her daughter said.

She was a graduate of Notre Dame Academy and planned to attend nursing school. The summer after high school, her father had a heart attack. The older siblings were in college, and the younger were busy with high school. She was responsible for helping at Savage Market. She later married and had children and did not continue her education — and didn’t lament her earlier plans.

“She did what she needed to do,” her daughter said.

Mrs. Wall was a frequent attendee of daily Mass, and she volunteered at her parishes — St. Ann through young adulthood; then St. Agnes and, since 1969, Christ the King, where she oversaw funeral services in the church. She delivered Mobile Meals and, on her own, visited elderly neighbors through the years. The aim, her daughter said, was “service to others. Making people feel better. Putting smiles on people’s faces.”

After her children were grown, she and several friends formed a business, Those Gals, in which they ran estate sales.

A younger sister, Margaret, an elementary teacher in the Toledo Public Schools, died in 2008.

Surviving are her husband, Ray Wall, whom she married Oct. 29, 1949; daughter, Beth Brickman; sons, Tim and Kevin Wall; sisters, Marie Witherell, Fran Somers, Libby Campbell, and Nancy Coyle; brothers, Jim and Robert Savage, and 10 grandchildren.

Visitation is 2-8 p.m. Friday in the Ansberg-West Funeral Home. Services are at 10 a.m. Saturday in Christ the King Church.

The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio; the church, or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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