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Rebel With a Cause

Tim Savage 1960 – 2015

One of my earliest memories is when Tim and I ran away from home. We were 2 and 4 years old at the time. This event is a little bit of a cameo of our relationship and his influence on me in my life. We woke up early in the morning one day and Tim convinced me that we should run away from home. I don’t think he had a specific good reason why we should do this, certainly it was not due to any beef with Mom and Dad, at that time and ever since we have been blessed by the most loving and supportive parents one could hope for. It was just one of those adventurous ideas that always seemed to occur to him. At first I was unconvinced; what about Mom and Dad? Wouldn’t we get into trouble? How would we manage to get out of the house unseen? What about tidal waves? Our fear of tidal waves was a big thing with us at the time, something we often talked about as we lay in our beds at night and despite Mom’s soothing assurances, we were unconvinced.

Typical of Tim, he talked me into it. It would be fun, we would have lots of exciting adventures together, tidal waves would be no problem because we would wear flippers, goggles and snorkels. So off we set down the street, protected by our snorkelling gear. This was the first of many, many occasions when Tim talked me into going along with one of his ill-advised ideas even when he was no longer double my age. He always had a lower threshold of what he thought was okay to do than me and yet he was always somehow able to convince me to do it.

As young boys we used to ride our bikes into the sugar cane fields, taking home-made cannons with ball-bearings and huge fireworks crackers. “Let’s shoot that sign” says Tim, and soon there were bullet holes in the steel sign.

There were the times he talked me into helping to push Moms car out the garage and driveway so baby-sitting gran wouldn’t realise he was “borrowing” it for the night. He would be off to party with his friends (I never went with) and never once got caught. The one time gran thought she had seen something and told my Mom, Mom didn’t believe her. “Not my Tim!”

The time we stood at the crack of dawn with our surfboards ready to surf the legendary Vic bay, contemplating the fearsome and violent reputation of “Mouse”, the locals-only enforcer. “Carpe Diem, seize the day” says Tim. One of my most memorable surf sessions ever, and no sign of “Mouse”.

We used to skateboard a huge hill at a new development called Sunningdale. Tim was the first to go straight right from the top and talked me into trying it. It was an exhilarating adrenaline rush, but a speed wobble soon ensued, resulting in wipe-out and serious roasties!

I know that all of his friends will have similar memories. Tim was much more often the one saying “yes we should” rather than “no we shouldn’t”, whether it was having another drink at a party or paddling out for a surf at dawn in cold sharky waters.

Tim was also a very competitive person and we certainly had the usual sibling rivalry. We used to spar with boxing gloves in the front yard until Mom hid them away one day (she never admitted doing this until we were much older). We tried to outdo each other in all sports, and in sailing we competed alongside and against each other. Tim had huge natural talent as a sailor. In the Sprog class sailing in the big waves of a Durban North-Easterly blow he was legendary. No-one else was quite as in-synch with the waves as he was, weaving his way upwind and then surfing downwind. He won multiple South African titles in the Sprog (including 2 with Pauline as crew) and would have won much more if he had continued to commit to the sport. Those of us who have played a game of pool with Tim will know full well the strength of his competitive streak, as well as his passion for his version of the rules. He even had a printed version of his rules posted at the local pub in Sunbury, the “Sunbury Rules”.

My whole life in many of the things that I do, mostly the adventurous fun things, Tim is in my mind. I always think of wanting to share the experience with him because he is such an infectious and adventurous soul. In a way I am always measuring up against him, not so much in a competitive way, but in some deep need for approval of a big brother that I have always looked up to. It will always be my great regret that we will never be able to have Tim come along and share some adventures on the Jolifou. I will however choose to believe that he is always with us in spirit, egging us on during the times that we are hesitant or cautious of doing something outside the comfort zone. During our recent time in London with the family someone coined the phrase: “What would Tim do?” and that is now our new motto.

Tim was a talented and enthusiastic musician, a born entertainer and social animal. His open mike events at various pubs in Sunbury were popular affairs and typical of Tim he was just as supportive of those having a go with little talent as he was with the more gifted musicians. He always had time for people and he would really genuinely be engaged and interested in what they had to say. At his memorial service I was touched by how many friends and work colleagues were there and were clearly deeply upset at their loss.

Talking with Pauline a few nights ago she pointed out that many people might not realise that Tim also had a very serious side. Those close to him will have seen his passion for perfection in everything that he created. This was probably most prevalent in his hobby of modifying his motor bikes. I had a look at his forum posts on one of the many mods he did on his Kawasaki, replacing the entire swing arm and rear wheel with one from a different model. He documented his work meticulously with parts list and annotated photos which other forum members were full of praise for. His carpentry work is absolutely immaculate and of course there is his sound equipment. Pauline’s brother Nick and I were having a look at his home entertainment equipment, thinking we might use some of it for the sound from the TV for his memorial ceremony. After a little while we both looked at each other and realised we were thinking the same thing. Tim would have been looking down on us and saying: “Don’t you bloody well touch my stuff! Do you know how long it took me to get that sounding just right?” At the same time we also realised how important it would be to him for the sound from the music videos to be good. If only Tim had been here to help us with that.

In the serious vein Tim also was a really responsible and devoted provider for his family. This was important to him and he has worked really hard his whole life to support his family and I know he leaves them well cared for and able to survive comfortably without him.

He was a loving and caring son, regularly phoning Mom and Dad from abroad to catch up on things. I know that his passing is the worst nightmare for my parents. Mom keeps saying to me that no parent should outlive their child and I know how awfully hard this is for them.

In some ways I think Tim was a bit of a conflicted personality. Devil on one shoulder, angel on the other. On the one shoulder he was a risk taker and adventurer, often doing stuff that many would consider a bad idea. On the other shoulder he was quite cautious, careful and meticulous about some things. We were having a glass of red with Tim’s friends John and Neil and talking about this and the term “rebel without a cause” cropped up. I think Tim was a rebel, but I know he had a cause. His cause was the great loves of his life, his wife Pauline, son Dylan and Daughter Emily. Clearly he achieved this cause, and would be so proud of the amazing legacy he is leaving behind.


  1. Merle says:

    What a lovely tribute to Tim Bruce thank you very much. He will always be with you. Be strong and know he is by your side always. Love and hugs to you both. Merle

  2. Such a beautiful tribute – a joyous account of a much loved person. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  3. Tracy Davey says:

    Bruce, you beautifully captured the essence of your brother, and I loved getting an insight into your relationship.. Love to you all, Tracy x

  4. Mike Steward says:

    Beautiful tribute to a man who lived life to the max. Much love to all the Savages.

  5. Kevin Bendall says:

    Dear Bruce,

    It is with tears that I write this message. I have the utmost respect for you and your family having been such a positive influence in my life. My memories of Tim, having competed against him in Sprogs as well as having been fortunate to crew for Tim when I was below 50kgs, are nothing less than wonderful.
    I find that three words best describe life …”It goes on”. And so it does with lessons learned, knowledge passed on and caring given. Your beautiful Mom playing piano at the PYC, your friendly Dad showing us kids the ropes and always smiling, your beautiful sister always having a giggle, You as a calm and strong inspiration and Tim being a wonderful competitor and friend.
    What better memories could I ask for. I Love You guys. Thank You.
    See you when we get there Tim.

  6. Joliette Savage says:

    What a beautiful tribute to our wonderful Tim…Thank you so much Kevin!

  7. Lisa says:

    Bruce, what a beautifully written tribute to your brother. You’re all in my thoughts xx

  8. Ruth Alexander-Smith says:

    Stunning, emotional and certainly correct words for an amazing man. He is so missed by so many, as he always had an impact. Love, prayers and thoughts with you all. Ruth Alexander-Smith (nee de Vlieg)

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