Local Charity Hosts 90th Birthday Party for Haverhill Korean War Veteran Joe Savio

Korean War Army veteran Joe Savio cuts his 90th birthday cake. (Photograph courtesy of Brian Keith.)

Korean War veteran Joe Savio of Haverhill was treated to a special 90th birthday celebration last week.

Dee O’Neil and the 411 Cares charity she founded organized the birthday party. O’Neil said she was introduced to the U.S. Army veteran when she started delivering lunches to Veterans Northeast Outreach Center’s Cedar Street veterans mansion. At first, O’Neil said, she thought she was helping Savio, but realized she and other volunteers were receiving the better end of the deal.

“Joe, although we help you every day, you sir are the one that helps us,” O’Neil told Savio at the party. “Most of us have lost our dads and uncles. You entering our lives has been a blessing. You have shared your wisdom, your strength and your hope.”

O’Neil explained Savio helped her with her own struggles as the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll. “Your deep love of God has gotten me through my biggest struggles with faith. You have wisdom that no other has ever shared with me or any of our gals.”

She said they maintain three-hour weekly telephone talks and Savio even came to her home last summer for a poolside gathering. O’Neil told him she would coax him into swimming this summer.

Tracy Kuever, Lori O’Gara, Mary Melendez, Karen McNamara and Lisa Carter were among other 411 Cares volunteers praising Savio. Carter said, “When I joined the 411Cares Team, I was still reeling from my dad’s death. My dad was also a Korean War Army Veteran just like Joe. So, as I’ve been able to spend more time with Uncle Joe, I’m sure he doesn’t even realize how much he has helped me work through some of my grief.”

Melendez added Savio has become a role model for my son in Haverhill High School’s ROTC.

Other birthday guests included Mayor James J. Fiorentini, interim Veterans Services Director Ralph T. Basiliere and City Councilors Melinda E. Barrett and Catherine Rogers. Legislative citations are also coming from Sen. Diana DiZoglio and Rep. Linda Dean Campbell.

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