d. May 10, 1999
Rev. Thom Savage was an American Catholic priest and president of Rockhurst University and a board member for both the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Kansas City Board of Trade who died of AIDS in 1999.
His brother James, also a priest, recalls that when he had his 25th anniversary in the priesthood in 1995, which was also the year of their mother's 90th birthday, they were celebrating together. And he almost didn't make it, because he was so sick.
At the time, James Savage said, family members assumed Thom Savage was having asthma-related problems. He had struggled with asthma all his life.
"And then, from 1995 until he died, those four years, he never said anything to anybody," James Savage said.
As with his illness, Thom Savage also had hidden his homosexuality,forced on him by the necessity of the Catholic clerical closet, and the CDF denunciation of any sexual expression for homosexuals.
"He certainly wasn't open about it," James Savage said. "Otherwise, we could have suspected what he might have. So there was no intimation of that."
After his death, he was widely applauded for the quality of his work as a priest. Bishop Raymond J. Boland of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph said "He did a lot of wonderful priestly work while he was living."
During a memorial service for Savage, the Rev. Patrick Rush, vicar general of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, asked those attending to thank Savage for his performance as a community leader and Rockhurst president. Three hundred people stood and applauded.
"Thom Savage was -- let's face it -- a showman," Rush said. "His life was a virtuoso performance of humanity, of Catholic Christian spirituality, of Jesuit mission.
The Rev. Tom Lequin, a priest in Presque Isle, Maine, attended seminary with Thom Savage in the Jesuits' New England Province.
"He was my classmate and a good friend," Lequin said. "He was a creative genius. And gifted? Oh, my God. He was just an exceptional person."
Rockhurst President Edward Kinerk, who was Savage's provincial in St. Louis, noted that Savage had entered the seminary in 1967.
"As a Jesuit, I cannot feel anything but pride and gratitude for a meteor that burned itself out in the service of others," Kinerk said. "On May 10, 1999, God took the gift back.
"Thom is with God. As Jesuits, we rejoice. He has done what God sent him to do."