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3/16/2013 10:00:00 PM
Local rancher remembered for warmth, storytelling
Karen Despain
The Daily Courier

Joe Savoini, a longtime Prescott resident known for his love of earth and animals, died Friday, March 8, 2013. He was 87 years old.

He was born Joseph Lawrence Savoini to Costantino (Connie) and Leonita (Nita) Savoini on Sept. 22, 1925, in Cottonwood, Ariz.

He attended Clemen-ceau Elementary School in Cottonwood and then Prescott Junior High School and Prescott High School when the family moved to Prescott in 1938. After his high school graduation, Joe enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II and served on the U.S. Bergen. In the spring of 1947, he enrolled at Arizona State College (now Arizona State University) and earned a degree in business.

His business education would serve him well. Over time, he and Charlie Fornara and John and Ann Olson partnered to buy the JCJ ranch in Big Chino. After that, Joe opened Savoini's Tack and Feed Store, with his brother Art. He later sold the store to Art and went into real estate, selling ranches for Favour and Associates. He was also a partner in Savoini's Cattle Company.

Yet his family remembers that his devotion to land and cattle - along with storytelling - are the characteristics that distinguished him.

A grandson, Daniel, in writing his own autobiography, documented questions he asked his grandfather that reflect the endearing qualities that his family fondly remembers.

"When did you get your first horse?" his grandson asked for his project. The answer was that his "father had put him on the workhorses when he was 5 or 6 years old" and that he "earned money to buy his first horse when he trapped gophers for 5 cents apiece." He paid $25 for that horse when he was 12 years old.

Daniel's writing also reveals that young Joe was expected to help at the Hassayampa Dairy when they moved to Prescott, milking, feeding and delivering milk each day before school. And Daniel wrote, too, that his grandfather learned to be a butcher from his father at the Hassayampa Market, which was his part-time job during college.

Another of his family notes that when they moved to Prescott, "Dad rode a mare with her colt from Cottonwood, over Jerome, through Gold Canyon to Prescott. This was the time he made the decision. This was his love - being a cowboy and what he wanted to do as his lifetime work."

"Cattle ranching was the joy of his life," daughter Margaret said. "He loved his cows and knew them all, their behavior, their dispositions, their birthing history. He frequently referred to them as his 'girls.'"

"He was a man of the land," daughter Debbie said, and "a steward of the land," Margaret added.

His daughters also recall his art of storytelling. "He amused us all" with his tales of ranching, hunting, fishing, Margaret said. "And, he loved to make fun of his children."

Joe leaves behind "an incredible number of friends, said his two "best friends," brothers Art and Jim.

One friend in particular, Lee Alfano, calls his friend of 25 years "one of my very best." "I knew about horses," said the long-time horseman, but "anything I know about cattle, he taught me. He was my mentor. Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to be a cowboy. Joe helped me fulfill that dream."

In addition to his daughters Margaret (John) Johnson and Debbie Savoini, both of Prescott, and Beth Fitch of Phoenix, and his brothers Art (Sue) Savoini and Jim (Mell) Savoini, Joe is survived by three grandchildren, four nephews and one niece.

A funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 19, at Sacred Heart Church, 150 Fleury Ave., in Prescott.

Joe was also a strong believer in education, his brothers said, and, until his death, was the oldest living member of the Yavapai County Mounted Sheriff's Posse. The family has established the Joseph Savoini Scholarship Fund in his memory. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Yavapai County Mounted Sheriff's Posse, P.O. Box 95, Prescott AZ 86302.

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Article comment by: Lori Hone

Rest in peace Joe, you were a very special part of Prescott's history and mine. You will always be a fond memory that makes me smile when I think of you. Growing up here, the Savoini's were a big part of my childhood, especially Beth, one of my true friends. You always made everyone laugh, thanks! My deepest condolences to the Savoini family.

Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013
Article comment by: Jana Armstead Mantifel

My thoughts and prayers go to the Savoini family. You will be missed. You are Art were truly two of the nicest people to work for.

Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Article comment by: Cory Saz

Rest in peace

Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Article comment by: Rancher up north

Peace be with you, Joe. You're already missed but we'll catch up with you soon enough. To all of Joe's family, the heartfelt condolences of myself and my family.

Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Article comment by: Jerry Insley

Joe: Here's to you Joe, a guy who loved life and the people he associated with. You always had a ready smile, a joke or story and a no-nonsense and realistic approach to life. The best any of us can hope for is "He was a good guy and done good" Jerry & Lill Insley

Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Article comment by: Moment of Silence

Mr. Savoini character is part of what we all admire about the area.

Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Article comment by: Jeff Barter

Our condolences to the Savoini for their loss . The real contributions given by this man and his family will always be remembered.

Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Article comment by: Bart Kadolph

Hey Joe, Go with GOD... You WILL be missed.
You were a GREAT MAN !!!! Prescott Lost a REAL TRUE COWBOY......... Vio Con Dios Joe.... The Kadolph Family...

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