Peter J. Savago, former New Paltz town supervisor and head of Ulster County government, died in his home April 5. He was 89 years old.
Savago was born and raised in New Paltz. In 1955 he was elected town clerk, which according to his family made him the youngest person to be voted into that job in New Paltz. He secured the position of town supervisor in 1959, at a time when Ulster County was run by the supervisors of all the towns. Savago became chair of that board of supervisors in 1966, and when that archaic system was replaced by a legislature the following year, he served as that body’s chair until 1976. He is credited with ensuring that the county pool was built in New Paltz.
The following year, Savago became head of the county’s Republican committee, a position he held for three decades. For 14 of those years he was also the Republican election commissioner for the county. He is credited with keeping members of that party in control of county government during that period. He resigned in 2007, two years after the legislature’s first Democrat majority was elected in more than a generation. That shift was part of a demographic change in the region that started in the wake of 9/11.
Savago, the owner of an insurance agency, is survived by his wife Ethel, three children, ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Visitation and services will be held privately due to pandemic-related restrictions, and he will be interred at New Paltz Rural Cemetery. A more public memorial will be scheduled at a time when it is safe to gather in numbers again.