Deacon Richard Russell Sage, age 73 of La Crosse, died peacefully at home surrounded by family on January 14th, 2022. Born in Onalaska on November 17th, 1948, where he later met, fell in love with and married Mary Margaret (Bell) Sage; his first and lifelong loving companion married for over fifty-two years. They later moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa but ultimately returned to the La Crosse area where they spent the balance of their glorious years together surrounded by loving family and friends.
In Richard’s own words, “From the time I was young I was very much drawn to the Church and active ministry and serving people. I grew up at St. Patrick’s Parish in Onalaska and was always drawn to religious life.” During his sophomore year of college, he spent much time praying and listening to what God was asking of him. Eventually, he discovered that the priesthood was not to be his path and he left the seminary. Shortly after, he reconnected with Mary, a friend from high school. He and Mary were married and went on to have three children, but the call for service never left his heart.
Deacon Sage began his career in the Finance Office for the Diocese of La Crosse in the mid-70’s and learned of the new opportunity for ordination to the permanent deaconate. He was part of the first class of permanent deacons for the La Crosse diocese in 1977. and received the Sacrament of holy orders, being ordained on June 19th, 1983, and actively served the parish for nearly 39 years. Deacon Sage served at St. Pius X Parish, joining with St. Thomas More Parish in 2000 to form Mary Mother of the Church Parish. Soon after Deacon Sage became the Executive Director of Catholic Charities combining his Faith and his career, serving others in all aspects of his life. After retiring from Catholic Charities, He took on the administrative work of his parish, work he continued for the balance of his life.
Deacon Sage was also an active servant leader in the La Crosse community first with his dear friends forming the Place of Grace Catholic Worker House. Also, a founding board member of the Wafer Food Pantry and was instrumental in opening the Warming Centers in La Crosse and Wausau as well as the Sojourner House in Eau Claire.
Richard was preceded in death by his parents, Larry and Helen and siblings, Michael Sage and Lori (Sage) Bollard. Survived by his wife, Mary; children, Jennifer (David) Schmeling, Tom (Michelle) Sage, David (Cynthia) Sage and his beloved grandchildren; Alicia, Jacob and Cody, sister Patricia (Jon) Fort, brother Leland (Kathleen) Sage and sister Debra (Terry) Drexler.
There will be a visitation Tuesday, January 18th, from 3-7:00 pm, with Rosary at 7 pm at Mary, Mother of the Church, 2006 Weston St, La Crosse (608) 788-5483. Visitation will also be one hour prior to the Mass at church.
Mass of Christian Burial will be Wednesday, January 19th, at 11 am at Mary, Mother of the Church. Burial will be in the Onalaska Cemetery.
Finally, special thanks to all doctors, nurses, caregivers, and EMTs from Mayo Clinic Health System who took care of our beloved father and husband. You will forever be remembered in our hearts.