Profiles in Foster Courage: Donald Savage

By Lin Weaver

“Profiles in Foster Courage” is a series of audio interviews dedicated to extraordinary individuals whose early life was spent in foster care, and to those who experienced first-hand the trauma and determination of those individuals whose early years were fraught with neglect.

DonRetired Sheriff’s Captain and US Army veteran Don Savage lives in Sacramento, in a very nice home with his wife Mary, also a Police Officer.

When I met him, the first thing I noticed was how tall and fit he is, attractive and welcoming. Clearly a man who is comfortable with who he is. I also sensed a great deal of leadership and strength about him.

Nothing about his persona suggests the neglect, abuse and personal loss that he experienced as a toddler and as a young man.  And yet, throughout the interview, Don describes how it was for him to grow up in and out of the foster system in Northern California during and after WWII. His account is rich in detail and factual information, so much so that his story could also be heard as a historical document of that era.

Alcoholism, depression, irresponsibility and neglect emerge as the common themes leading to a society’s inability to care for its children.  Unfortunately, those still seem to be the continuing factors today.

Determined to be independent, Don first enrolled in the California National Guard at age fourteen and was quickly discharged several months later for being a minor when the local newspaper reported the death of his sixteen-year-old brother, due to a heart attack during first period PE at El Dorado High School, and mentioned Don’s age.

Don then rejoined the US Army Infantry Reserve in Santa Rosa upon turning seventeen. His US Regular Army stint lasted from February 1,1959 until 1964. In 1965 he entered law enforcement with the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department where he served (with the exception of some years spent in food sales) until his retirement in 1998.

Don is now the proud father of two very successful sons, one residing in Germany, and the happy grandfather (or Opa, as his German grandchildren call him) of five grandchildren.

Thank you Don for letting me tell your fascinating story!

Lin Weaver is a media journalist and a radio and TV Producer. She is a Trustee of UC Davis  and a Member of the College of Biological Sciences Advisory Council.

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