Martin Saviano, Gazette Chicago circulation helper, dies at age 57
December 6, 2019

Martin F. “Marty” Saviano, Gazette Chicago circulation helper.

Martin F. “Marty” Saviano, a long-time resident of the Little Italy community, and a resident of the Hegewisch community of Chicago for more than 17 years, passed away on Aug. 22 after a lengthy illness. He was 57 years old.

Mr. Saviano was employed in the Randolph Street Market for many years as a delivery driver and part-time butcher. Prior to that position, he worked for the City of Chicago and Cook County. He also was a circulation helper for the Gazette Chicago newspaper for more than 25 years.

A Mass of the Resurrection was said for Mr. Saviano at Notre Dame de Chicago Church on Aug. 31. More than 100 family and friends attended the service, which was presided over by the Rev. Peter B. McQuinn, pastor of Holy Family-Notre Dame de Chicago Parish.

Mark Valentino, editor and publisher of Gazette Chicago, offered Mr. Saviano’s eulogy.

“When I reflect back on Marty’s life, I believe that there was a part of him that never let go of his pre-adolescent years growing up on Taylor Street,” said Valentino. “That elfish grin and mischievous personality.  The way he enjoyed making others around him laugh. The zany things he conjured up. He could charm the daylights out of you and infuriate you all within a couple of hours. Sometimes, if he worked really hard, it would only take a few minutes.

“Marty was one of the best circulation helpers we’ve had at Gazette Chicago. No matter the elements, Marty would run like a gazelle to help get the routes done on time,” Valentino added.

Mr. Saviano was preceded in death by his parents, James and Martha (nee DiTuri). Entombment is at Queen of Heaven Mausoleum in Hillside, IL.

 


Eulogy:

We Remember Martin F. “Marty” Saviano

August 20, 1962—August 22, 2019

Notre Dame de Chicago Church

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Good morning. My name is Mark Valentino, and I first met Marty when he was 11 years old. It is my honor to share a few words and memories.

On behalf of Marty’s brothers, Jimmy; Dominic and his wife, Vicky; Anthony and his wife, Franny; and his nieces Denise, Dena, Dominique, Gia, and Ashley; and the other members of the Saviano and DiTuri families, we thank you for being present with us this morning at Notre Dame de Chicago Church.

Today, we come together as a community of faith to celebrate Marty’s life; to petition God to grant him the joy and peace of eternal salvation; and to ask Jesus to guide our paths in the days, months, and years ahead so that someday, we can be joined with Marty once again in the Communion of Saints.

When I reflect back on Marty’s life, I believe that there was a part of him that never let go of his pre-adolescent years when he grew up just a few blocks from here at West Polk and Miller Streets.

That elfish grin. That mischievous personality. The way he enjoyed making others around him laugh. The zany things he conjured up.

He could charm the daylights out of you and infuriate you all within a couple of hours. Sometimes, if he worked really hard, it would only take a few minutes.

He was determined. Loyal. Aloof. Mystifying. Incorrigible. Frustrating. And, endearing. And that was how you usually felt about Marty before it was time for lunch.

There was a reason he was called “Marty from Mars.” Some of your other nicknames for Marty might offer more colorful descriptions—but Father Peter already told me to behave myself this morning.

“Marty from Mars.”

Dare I say, that in so many ways, he was otherworldly? I bet you would agree.

I met Marty through his brother, Anthony, when the two of us began working together at the former Saint Frances Cabrini Hospital—also just a stone’s throw from where we are sitting. It was the late fall/early winter of 1974.

I noticed that Marty would tear through his family’s apartment like a comet. One minute he was running out the back porch to play with his friends, the next he was bursting through the living room to make sure he wasn’t late for dinner.

Did I say that Marty was “Mystifying?”

One day, before I knew him, and shortly before meeting his buddies to play ball, Marty opened the refrigerator door to grab a cold pop. He saw something odd—smoke was billowing out from inside the fridge.

“”Oh well,” he shrugged, and off he went flying out the back door.

Coming back home a short time later, he could see that the entire family—including all of his relatives living throughout the six-flat, was gathered in his mom’s and dad’s apartment. Lots of neighbors were milling about, too.

“What’s going on?” he asked Anthony.

“The fridge caught fire—what a mess. It could have burned the whole building down.”

“Oh yeah, I saw that,” Marty replied.

Then he nonchalantly walked towards his bedroom in the rear of the flat. It took all three brothers, Jimmy, Dominic and Anthony to hold back their dad, Jimmy, from wringing Marty’s neck that day.

Did I say that Marty was incorrigible and endearing?

Do you remember Chicago’s Blizzard of 1979? It wound up costing Mayor Michael Bilandic his job for his failure to clean the streets.

I was a student at DePaul University when the blizzard hit.        I barely made it back to the Old Neighborhood from Lincoln Park. The L trains were running at a snail’s pace and when the Blue Line train pulled in at Racine Avenue—that was it. The ice had built up so much on the tracks—the trains were stuck. Everyone on board was told to get off.

I was still several blocks from home and wasn’t prepared for all that snow—I wasn’t even wearing winter boots. My feet were already frozen.

“I got it—I’ll go over to Anthony Saviano’s house. I’m sure Martha and Jimmy will put me up for the night.”

I was right—the Saviano’s were more than kind. Martha made me some hot soup and of course, there was little angelic Marty willing to do anything to make my stay more pleasant.

“You can have my top bunk tonight, Mark. I’ll go sleep on the couch,” Marty offered.

“Gee, thanks, kid.”

Anthony had the bottom bunk. Jimmy had his own bedroom. Dominic—was off and married—I think—well, maybe not. Sorry if I’m getting you in trouble with Vicky—Dom.

Anyway…

I climbed up to the top bunk. Weary from walking in knee-deep snow, I was going to fall asleep fast.

Or so I thought.

It seemed really warm in that top bunk. I peeled off the heavy blanket. Then the sheets. I was starting to perspire. Then beads of sweat came pouring down my forehead.

Long story short, I was soon laying in that top bunk in nothing but my skivvies. I felt delirious. I could see snowflakes blowing through the opening in the top of the window—the wind was so strong the snow was pelting me.

Yet, I felt as if I was in the Mohave Dessert. With what little strength I had left, I climbed down from the bunk bed and headed to the kitchen for a cold glass of water.

I could see a light on in the living room as I headed down the hallway.

There was Marty, eating potato chips and watching a late night movie.

“Comfy in there?” he asked me with a straight face.

“Are you crazy—it’s about 120 degrees in that top bunk and what’s with the window being open?” I asked.

He just smiled. I took a cold glass of water with me and tried to go to sleep.

Early the next morning, I heard their Dad asking very loudly to anyone within earshot, “Who in God’s green acres cranked the temperature up to full blast on the furnace last night?”

Marty looked at me with that elfish grin and walked back to his room.

It was my turn to want to wring his neck—but I think I lost 20 pounds that night from the sauna I was in, and my legs still felt weak like spaghetti.

I eventually forgave Marty, and Anthony, for that escapade, because I found out later Anthony was in on the prank, too.

Soon, I found Marty tagging along with me at Sheridan Park. He kept pestering me to let him play basketball with my crew of friends—being we were about four to five years older than him.

“You’re too young, Marty—buzz off,” they said. Or something like that.

He looked at me with those sad eyes.

“Okay, okay,” I said. “But, if you want to earn a spot—you gotta learn some moves, or you’ll get creamed out there.”

I taught him the fade-away jumper and the no look pass. I taught him the pick and roll.

Now this next part—I’m going to love sharing—and not to be boastful—but because I finally get the last say on this—that’s the advantage of the person giving the eulogy, right?

It took some time—lots of time and lots of nights with me losing my hot shower before heading home from the Sheridan Park’s gym—but I taught Marty how to switch hands on a layup at the rim and shift the ball from his right hand to his left. I taught him, okay—not the other way around.

Now, I know that right about now, Saint Peter and a few others are holding Marty back—because he must be making quite a fuss up there about this last statement. But, that’s a fact and I guess Marty and I can debate it later—if I ever get my wings.

Did I say that Marty was loyal?

Yes, he was and that oftentimes that got lost in all the craziness that swirled around him.

He certainly was loyal to his family.

When Ashley was in grammar school, she asked her Uncle Marty to help her Dad coach the girl’s basketball team. Marty made the trek from Taylor Street to Westchester for all the games.

When Franny was sick and battling breast cancer some years back, Marty called Anthony constantly. Not only did he want to check in on Fran, he also wanted to know how Anthony was holding up.

When it was a family member’s birthday he didn’t just leave a message. He wanted to talk to them personally and wish them a Happy Birthday.

When the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016 after a 108-year drought, Marty cried. He cried tears of joy, but he also cried for his Dad who couldn’t be there for the historic win and every single Cubs fan who passed on, too. Marty cried buckets of tears that night.

When his beloved cat, Goober—or The Panther—he had two names for his little buddy with the sleek black coat and the golden yellow eyes—ran away scared off one summer’s night after a raccoon got into their yard in Hegewisch, Marty combed the streets looking for him.

He called me around 10:30 p.m. to say that Goober ran away.    I tried to tell him it would be okay, that Goober was a smart cat, and he’d be home once the fear subsided.

Marty called me every half-hour, in tears every time, with updates. Still no Goober.

Midnight. 1 a.m. 2:30 in the morning. Finally, at 4:30 a.m. after Marty and I had prayed once again to St. Francis of Assisi to bring Goober home, I got the call we were hoping for.

“Goober’s back!,” Marty cried. “He was meowing in the gangway,” he said.

More tears—but of joy this time. For both of us. And, an opportunity to say to Marty—“you know, it’s good to pray sometimes, huh?”

And of course, Marty was loyal to his brother, Jimmy.

When Jimmy had a stroke several years ago, Marty stepped in to help. He would come into the City and help Jimmy go grocery shopping, get a haircut, go to Walgreen’s for meds (and cigarettes), and cook and clean the apartment.

Even as Marty’s own health started to fail—he pushed himself to help Jimmy.

He didn’t always get there when he said he would. It might be two or three days later—that’s just how Marty was—but the important thing is, he got there.

Pause.

“The Lord is Kind and Merciful.

Rich in Kindness, Slow to Anger.

The Lord is Kind and Merciful.”

We choose Psalm 103 as our Communion Meditation to help quiet our minds for this moment in our Mass of Celebration for Marty.

When the family made the difficult decision to let God determine when it was time to call Marty home—we gathered around him at the UIC Hospital.

The care Marty received there was extraordinary.

We prayed. We cried. We told stories. We “let go and let God” as we often say at times like these.

Marty held on for quite some time—some 30 hours went by before he passed from this world to the Lord’s waiting arms in Heaven—and with Anthony holding his hand.

The next morning, I sent Father Peter a text with the news.

I wrote—“The Lord is Kind and Merciful.”

He replied, “Amen, brother.”

We might think that this Psalm was chosen based on the fact that ours is a forgiving Lord. And, of course, we would be correct in saying that.

But, ours is also a kind and merciful Lord. He knew how tired Marty was after his long and arduous struggle the past few years, and how he wanted to go home to be with his Mom and Dad. And, Goober, too.

Goober died the morning after Christmas two years ago. Marty and I spent the entire night in his apartment in Hegewisch waiting to see Goober off.

Marty and I talked a lot about Heaven that night. And life, and death, and hopes and dreams, and dying.

It was Christmas and we should have been talking about Jesus’s birth—and yet we were talking about Resurrection. Wow—how utterly incredible. And, how mystifyingly appropriate.

I could see though that Marty’s heart was breaking.

He said that he hoped Goober and all the other pets of this world also made it to Heaven. We recalled the night Goober ran away and how we prayed together to St. Francis of Assisi and how St. Francis answered our prayers and brought Goober—The Panther—safely home. St. Francis would so a second time now.

Marty told me that when it was his time, he was going to ask God if he could have a job in Heaven helping St. Francis care for all the animals. I said to him—“out of all the jobs you’ve ever had—that one would suit you the best.“

Even more so than the cracker-jack Gazette newspaper delivery guy he was—that was a job that Marty had with me for more than 20 years. He worked so hard each and every time. Ran like a gazelle from stop to stop.

I believe that Marty is smiling down on us right now. He’s happy his brothers brought flowers to church with the Notre Dame logo on it.

He’s happy that all of us are here—not to judge him—that’s certainly not for us to do—but to recall him fondly and to acknowledge that Marty Saviano was just like us.

Sometimes he swung and missed with the bases loaded.

Sometimes he hit one out of the park.

I guess you could say Marty was a perfect Christian—meaning of course that neither he nor any of us are, but by the Lord’s grace and that of the Holy Spirit, we can and often do…    better.

Thank you, Marty.

Thanks for all the good times and the long talks on the phone when I was taking my walks or riding my bike, or burning the midnight oil working on something or another.

Thanks for endearing yourself to us; driving us crazy at times; making us laugh; being other-worldly; and showing that you loved us.

Take care and get some rest—get those legs back under you and enjoy helping out St. Francis.

Say hello to your Mom and Dad, Uncles Guy and Benny, and give Goober a big hug, too.

We will pray for you and to you. We won’t ever forget you.

Promise that you will be there when we need to talk.

Go Cubbies, Bears, and the Fighting Irish.

Peace and Love, always, Marty.

And remember everyone; Our Lord…He truly is kind, and merciful.