Current, ex commissioners remember Doc

By Kelly Ducote / The Observer August 21, 2013 11:40 am
After leaving the locker room for the last time as coach, Lorence “Doc” Savage didn’t shy away from the La Grande community.

Instead, he gravitated toward it, running for election on the Union County Board of Commissioners in 1988.

That was the year he ran against current Commissioner Steve McClure.

“He beat me by about 48 votes,” McClure said. “Doc always said it was more than that.”

McClure later joined Savage and John Howard on the board in 1990.

Howard said Savage’s time as a commissioner is memorable because it involved the creation of Baum Park, the industrial park by Union County Airport. It also involved some steep budget cuts following the recession of the late 1980s and the 1990 passage of Ballot Measure 5.

“We had to make significant cuts in our budget,” McClure said. “That’s probably the hardest thing we had to do together.”

McClure and Howard remember Savage for spearheading the effort to build the Chaplin Building, which houses the county clerk, planning offices and assessor.

“He did a great job on that,” Howard said.

But more than the accomplishments Savage achieved in office, he’s remembered for the little things.

Howard said there was some strife about courthouse parking while they were on the Board of Commissioners. Each commissioner had his own parking spot, marked with a pole and sign. One day Howard took his out because he thought it was unfair to other county employees.

“I came in the next day and saw Doc doing the same thing,” Howard said.

Howard said Savage took his decisions seriously and focused on Union County, choosing not to travel on trips to Salem.

“There was a lot of trust,” Howard said. “And that’s the thing I remember about Doc.”

After serving as commissioner for six years, Savage joined the planning commission, which he served on for a number of years.

“Doc is definitely a community leader that will be missed,” McClure said.

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.