MOUNT DESERT — Charles Kenneth Savage Jr. of Mount Desert passed away peacefully on March 28, 2017, at age 74.
Ken was born in Bar Harbor on March 4, 1943, to Charles Kenneth Savage Sr. and Katharine Larchar Savage.
Ken’s lifelong love of Mount Desert Island’s history and people was born of a childhood spent in Northeast Harbor’s Asticou, just as generations of his ancestors had before him since settling there in the 1790s. He grew up in Asticou’s Clover Cottage, directly across the street from the elegant Asticou Inn, which his parents owned and managed for three decades. Together with his sister Mary Ann and Savage cousins, Ken fished and ice-skated at Asticou Pond, sailed skiffs in the inner harbor and spent hours exploring the Thuya Terraces, with its winding paths, pitch pines, wild blueberries and views of Northeast Harbor through the trees. He particularly loved the upper stone lookout and would later show his daughters just where to find a rare pitcher plant in the woods behind it.
Ken’s dedication to preserving the Thuya and Asticou Azalea Gardens — conceived and designed by his father Charles when Ken was a teenager — would become one of the hallmarks of his lifelong service to the Island community. When home from Proctor Academy for the summer, Ken supported both gardens through hard labor. He carefully raked the crushed pink granite paths daily into their zen-like waves and was responsible for diving into the icy natural spring water in the hollow beneath the Thuya Spring House to collect visitors’ coin wishes in support of the garden’s upkeep. As an adult, Ken served on the Land & Garden Preserve’s Board of Directors, actively working to raise funds, support events, and shepherd his father’s vision for these special public gardens into the future. He passed his love for these enchanting places to his three daughters, who each wed in Thuya Garden over the course of three successive Septembers, and who were proudly walked down Thuya’s central grassy aisle by their father.
After graduating from Nichols College and while serving in the Maine National Guard, Ken moved to Ipswich, Mass. There, he met Alice Hennessey on New Year’s Eve in 1969. In Alice, he found a partner who shared his commitment to family, talent for entertaining and wry sense of humor. She engaged his heart and mind, and they were happily married for 44 years.
Like his gifted father, Ken was a skilled and imaginative woodcarver. Whether at home, on business travel, or on vacation, he was never without a carving tool and a piece of wood. He could be found carving on the beach, during a break from walking on Acadia’s Carriage Roads, in parking lots, with little wood-chip piles the telltale sign that he had been there. His beautiful walking sticks, bas reliefs, garden gates, bookends, birdhouses and signs grace homes and yards across the world.
As the son of innkeepers, hospitality and congeniality were in Ken’s blood. His amiable nature placed him at ease personally and professionally among people of all backgrounds. Ken will be remembered by grateful family and friends as a warm and generous host who loved a good bourbon Manhattan, presiding over lobster picnics at Seawall, and driving his lovingly restored 1972 cherry red Ford LTD convertible — the “Red Rocket” — with his sons-in-law in the Mount Desert Island Fourth of July parade. He delighted in sharing his love and knowledge of Mount Desert Island with those from away, enthusiastically giving his “nickel tour” of MDI to visitors grateful for his unique insights into its history and culture. He was an enthusiastic supporter of local businesses and artisans, serving on the Board of the Acadia Corp., and promoting Maine artists at the Asticou Connection Gallery in the village of Town Hill, which he ran with family.
Ken is survived by his love and best friend, Alice Savage of Mount Desert; his three daughters Anne Hatzimichalis, Kate Conner and Jessica Anderson; his grandson Augie Conner, who shares Ken’s joy in flying kites on the beach; grandson Deacon Conner, who loved to join Ken in playing with antique Dinky toy cars; granddaughter Georgia Hatzimichalis, who shares her grandfather’s love of nature walks and binoculars; grandson Peter Hatzimichalis, who shares Ken’s March 4 birthday and interest in “fashion cars”; granddaughter Penelope Anderson, who loved going toe to toe in funny noise contests with Grandpa Ken; brand new granddaughter Evelyn Anderson, who Ken never got the chance to meet but of whom he was so very proud; and his sister, Mary Ann Habib.
The Savage Family will hold a memorial service on Mount Desert Island during the summer. To honor Ken’s extraordinary life, please direct memorial gifts to the Land & Garden Preserve, which supports the Thuya and Asticou Azalea Gardens, a family legacy of which Ken was so proud.