AYLESFORD, N.S. —
Whether it’s working as a handyman or volunteering for a good cause, giving of himself to help others is perhaps his greatest motivation.
Originally from Fredericton, Ray Savage moved to Moncton with his family when he was 13 and lived there until the mid-1980s. He sold real estate for five years and was the marketing manager for a large residential builder. His management work took him to several Atlantic Canadian cities before he settled in the Annapolis Valley.
The Aylesford resident said there’s a certain intangible quality to the region and he’s entrenched himself in the community. The majority of people are very friendly and welcoming and he loves the climate and environment.
Savage is a past president of the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the Rotary Club of New Minas Sunrise and the Kinsmen Club of Kentville. Savage volunteered with the Apple Blossom Festival for 10 years and served as the festival’s president.
“That was very satisfying,” Savage said. “A couple of momentous things there were helping usher in the Apple Blossom coin, as well as the Apple Blossom stamp, that was kind of surreal for me.”
The cancer survivor has also done a lot of volunteer work with Relay for Life, helping to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
It was 28 years ago when, on his birthday, he was diagnosed with stage-four Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Savage had a mass intertwined throughout his lung about the size of his fist and he was given about a 30 per cent chance of survival.
He said a positive attitude was perhaps his greatest asset when battling and overcoming cancer. When asked what advice he would give to others going through a similar ordeal, Savage said “seek out like-minded people…try to stay healthy and enjoy life as much as you can.”
Savage still does some business consulting and publishing work and keeps very busy these days with his business, No Job Too Small Handy Man Services.
He said there wasn’t much going on in early to mid-April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as the end of the month approached, the calls picked up dramatically, whether this was because of pent-up demand or people just wanting to get things done.
Savage said he likes the fact that the job involves a lot of physical activity and is good for his health. He also enjoys being able to help people, especially seniors. When he finishes a job, sees a smile on his client’s face and knows they are satisfied with the work, “that’s a pretty cool feeling.”
A recent example was when he was asked to complete a couple of decks for a senior couple who moved to the Valley to retire. They had earlier had a bad experience with a contractor but were very happy with the work of No Job Too Small. Savage said he was pleased to be able to help the couple and – in the process – welcome them to the community.
Savage recently took part in a Q and A session:
Q: What is your full name?
A: John Raymond Jude Savage Jr.
Q: Where and when were you born?
A: I was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick and my birthday is May 3.
Q: Where do you live today?
Q: What’s your favourite place in the world?
A: Hmmm, tough question. My favourite place I’ve visited is New Zealand.
Q: Who do you follow on social media?
A: Deepak Chopra, Wayne Boucher, Zig Zigler as well as a few positive quote sites.
Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I’m pretty much an open book but I guess maybe that in reality I’m a very shy person.
Q: What’s been your favourite year and why?
A: Actually, was a couple of years, I believe it was 2001 and 2002. While with the Apple Blossom Festival, I worked closely with Canada Post to bringing out an ABF stamp and the following year I worked with the Royal Canadian Mint to release a 50-cent sterling silver coin. In this same time period I became a member of the Canada Pension Plan review tribunal and did some amazing work over several years. It was awesome to help facilitate a couple of momentous community happenings as well as assist a number of individuals who got lost in the bureaucratic system.
Q: What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
A: Settling my mother’s estate with a large family.
Q: Can you describe one experience that changed your life?
A: Winning my battle with cancer after being given a not so good prognosis. I grew up in a bit of a tough environment and my journey through the big “C”, including dealing with and counseling some other patients, particularly a young boy I became quite close with losing his battle, truly softened me, taught me true empathy and changed my life on many levels.
Q: What’s your greatest indulgence?
A: I have to say sweets.
Q: What is your favourite movie or book?
A: Another tough one, most of the books I read are of a business or personal development nature, but I guess the movie that has really touched me was Philadelphia. It was released about the same time I was finishing cancer treatments. The treatment Tom Hanks’ character received from others mirrored my own and it made a huge impact on me. Good thing I saw it at the drive-in so no one could see me ball like a baby.
Q: How do you like to relax?
A: Laughing with good friends, preferably around a fire sharing some libations.
Q: What are you reading or watching right now?
A: Not much these days as I’m quite busy work wise but being a bit of a car nut, I have recorded a few car rebuilding shows I enjoy.
Q: What is your greatest fear?
A: I don’t think I really have any, other than getting old and not being healthy.
Q: How would you describe your personal fashion statement?
A: Casual, but I clean up pretty good.
Q: What is your most treasured possession?
A: My dad’s Second World War medals.
Q: What physical or personality trait are you most grateful to a parent for?
A: My sense of humour
Q: What three people would join you for your dream dinner party?
A: Robert Herjavec, Barack Obama and Sandra Bullock.
Q: What is your best quality, and what is your worst quality?
A: Best would be adaptability to change and worst would have to be having a hard time starting the day, before my coffee.
Q: What’s your biggest regret?
A: Not understanding the value of education early in life.