Savard, 84, said he wanted to volunteer at Auburn’s Hospice House soon after his beloved wife, Lucille, died there, but they wouldn’t let him until some time had passed.

“She died in the fall, and I really wanted to volunteer,” he said. “I thought I’d be volunteering by Christmas, but they wouldn’t let me in. You have to take classes, and they don’t take anyone that’s lost a loved one for a year.”

But today, just a few years later, there’s no volunteer better at talking with hospice patients and making them feel better, according to the people at Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice.

“I like to talk to them,” he said. “Sometimes they can’t talk, they’re sleeping, but their guests like to talk. So I talk to the guests. And then they are anxious for me to come back.”

He talked about one visit he made to a patient and her family at the hospice. She was resting with her eyes closed, and he introduced himself. She took his hand, and he began to worry that she had mistaken him for a priest.

“She was under sedation, and I didn’t want this to get out of hand,” he said. “So I said, ‘You know, I’m not a priest.’ And she said ‘That’s OK. I’m not a nun’, and everyone in the room burst out laughing.”

Savard said he has plenty to talk about. He wears his veterans cap as a conversation starter and regularly presents pins to patients, veteran to veteran.

“It’s an entrance, and we can talk about where they served or what unit they were in,” he said.

If that doesn’t work, there’s his French heritage.

“I don’t know how many times that’s helped me, where the patient doesn’t want to talk English,” he said. “I start talking French and they get a big smile. I have had horses and cows, so the horse people I can talk to, too.”

And if none of those work, he’ll talk to them about his owning a bar.

“So I can always find something to talk to them about,” he said.

Savard began volunteering at the hospice in April 2013. He’s there every Thursday and most Fridays. He travels to visit hospice patients at Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta on Mondays and most Wednesdays and makes home visits to patients on Tuesdays.

Kathy Baillargereon, volunteer coordinator at Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice, said his visits are one of many things he does.

“He does transportation, delivered medications when there’s been an emergency, he’s done home visits,” she said. “Wherever there is a need, he’s going to be there. We can call on him and he never says no. We actually have to say, ‘Hey Leo, how are you doing? We don’t want to burn you out.'”

But Savard said it’s what keeps him going, keeps him healthy.

“When my wife first died, I’d call my son all the time to go to lunch and I was worried about being a burden,” he said. “But now, my son says he needs to make an appointment to see me. That’s right, and that’s the way it should be.”

Know someone with a deep well of unlimited public spirit? Someone who gives of their time to make their community a better place? Then nominate them for Kudos. Send their name and the place where they do their good deeds to reporter Scott Taylor at [email protected] and we’ll do the rest.

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