Charles Saverine, 94, Professional Baseball Player, Darien’s Chief Building Official, Active in Piedmont Club (2023)

Charles Albert Saverine, a proud son of Darien, passed away on Jan. 22 due to a previously undetected medical condition – old age.

He was 94 and had continued to work as a designer and draftsman of house plans up until Christmas, when he planned to “take a short break.”

Charles Saverine, 94, Professional Baseball Player, Darien’s Chief Building Official, Active in Piedmont Club (2)

Charles Saverine, 94, passed away on Jan. 22. His funeral will take place at 10 a.m., Monday, Jan. 30.

Charles was universally respected and admired in his beloved hometown for his generous heart, tireless work ethic, and helpful nature. He was a learned and practical expert in all aspects of the building trade where he began work as a waterboy at age 8 and later learned carpentry.

He advanced from Journeyman to Master Carpenter to Home Builder to Home Designer/Master Draftsman to Chief Building Official for the Town of Darien – the final position being his greatest source of pride. The great majority of his skills were self-taught.

Charles was also renowned as one of the finest athletes that Darien ever produced. A man of formidable size and strength, Charles’ early nickname was The Bull. Later they would be Chuck, Chol, and the most familiar, Charlie.

His leisure activities were few, but he relaxed by playing golf, saxophone, and being a doting grandfather to a total of 15 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Of proud Italian heritage, ironically, Charlie was born on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1928.

Legend has it he weighed 14 pounds at birth. His parents were Lilian Saverine (nee Cammarota) and Sabato (Sal) Saverine of 9 Joseph St. in the Little Italy neighborhood of Darien.

Charles grew up with three sisters: Dorothy (Dot) Carella who sadly passed away due to COVID in 2020; Joyce Mauro, who has relocated and lives happily near her children in Georgia; and Ann Calve who still resides in Darien and is very active in St. John Church.

Charlie attended Baker Elementary School (now a playground and ball fields), Hollow Tree Middle School (formerly The Senior Center) and Darien High School (now the Town Hall).

At Darien High, Charlie was a fine student and star athlete earning letters in Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Golf. His greatest love was baseball, where he excelled at the position of catcher – the most demanding position on the field.

He graduated in 1945 just as World War II came to an end. Many of Charlie’s friends and relatives served in combat and he never shook the sorrow of losing some overseas. He had tremendous respect and admiration for the military and its veterans throughout his life. That was evidenced in part by his flawless attendance of Darien’s annual Memorial Day Parade and, more important, the tributes and remembrances at Spring Grove Cemetery that followed.

After High School, Charlie received a full athletic scholarship to LaSalle Military Academy on Long Island. In his second year, he left the Academy and enrolled in the Army where he was on temporary duty from 1946 to 1948.

Charles Saverine, 94, Professional Baseball Player, Darien’s Chief Building Official, Active in Piedmont Club (3)

Contributed photo

Charles Saverine when he was a professional baseball player for six years, until 1954.

His “job” was to play baseball full time to entertain the troops. He traveled all over Japan playing baseball; and while there, he was scouted by the Cardinals and signed a contract.

To his great disappointment, the contract was voided because it was signed overseas. He was released, and subsequently received offers from the Yankees, Phillies, Tigers, and Red Sox. He signed with the Phillies and played on teams in their Minor League “farm system” for six years all over the United States.

Charlie resigned from professional baseball in 1954 to join his father as a home builder and settle in Darien with his wife Jenny and their growing family.

Charlie returned to the local sports scene playing baseball for St. John of Darien and The Knights of Columbus in the Stamford Twilight League.

He supported the Darien Youth Association by coaching baseball teams in Babe Ruth, Senior Babe Ruth, and the American Legion Leagues — working with Al Vasone to help youngsters improve their skills and raise the level of play in Darien.

During the burgeoning post-war Baby Boom, Charlie started his own home building business and worked with a Who’s Who of local builders and contractors. These men became his life-long friends and through the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s they built the homes and infrastructure that would become the face of modern Darien and Fairfield County.

After a time, his diverse experience (and a bit of age) led Charlie to take a position with the rapidly growing Ring’s End Lumber Company. During these years, Charlie expanded his knowledge of building materials and developed his talent as a designer and draftsman.

The latter became his artistic passion, and he didn’t leave his drawing board for the next 50 years. At the time of his passing, Charlie had records of no fewer than 4,000 building projects and 2,000 house plans on which he personally labored or designed and drew the plans.

In 1979, Charlie was presented with an opportunity that would solidify his identity as a “builder of Darien.” He was asked to join the town Building Department. He began as an assistant to the head building official, George Hill, before being appointed himself to chief building official in 1994.

He served in the Darien Building Department for a record 33 years until he stepped down in 2012. During his tenure, Charlie trained and mentored Darien’s current chief building official, and friend, Mike Vitti.

Charlie rejected the notion of retirement and merely returned to designing and drawing house plans full time. At his passing, he might have been the last draftsman in Fairfield County to draw plans exclusively by hand (pencil and paper), but he produced them faster, more accurately, and with more elegant solutions than most architects could on computer. Until the last, his plans were beautifully rendered and lettered works of art.

A man of great service and devotion to anything Darien, Charlie was also dedicated to the preservation and success of two important Darien organizations. First is The Darien Old Timers Athletic Association that honors the achievements of local athletes past and present and raises money for scholarships. Charlie himself was honored in 1991 and served as President for three years from 1980-83.

And closest to his heart was The Piedmont Club of Darien, where residents of Italian ancestry gather to have fun and host events for a variety of charities and activities. In 2021, the Club honored Charlie’s 18 years of service as Club Treasurer by naming their yearly golf event The Charles A. Saverine Annual Golf Outing.

Charlie was also a life-long parishioner of St. John Church, where he staked out his left-side pew every Sunday until the time of his passing. His constant and devoted pew-mates were his beloved cousin Steve Zangrillo (founder of Darien Sport Shop) and after Stevie’s death, his son Tony Zangrillo.

More than anything else, Charlie lived in service and devotion to his family. He supported their dreams and endeavors, and encouraged his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to pursue whatever studies, sports, careers, or interests they chose – as long as they “did it right,” meaning try your hardest.

Family life began for Charlie when he met his future love, Jenny Kucis of Stamford, at one of his baseball games. They married on April 19, 1952, and would later have three children: Peter, Jeffrey, and Barbara. The new family settled on Spring Street across from the former Struther’s Estate (now Coachlamp Lane) in a house that Charlie built while working as a carpenter.

Jenny and Charlie were very proud of their modest home and they worked tirelessly to make improvements and keep it tidy. Sadly, Jenny died of cancer in 1998.

Charlie is survived by Peter Saverine, and his partner Holly Hanes; Barbara Andrianus, and her family – both children still residing in Darien; and Jeffrey Saverine and his wife Michele (Mickey) who live in Norwalk. In addition, Charlie is survived by seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren: Charles Andrianus of Darien, Alicia Andrianus of Darien, and Corryn Andrianus of Kohoes NY; Lauren Stisser of Darien with husband Tim and their children Eloise, Olive, and Pippa; Justin Saverine of Wilton with wife Mackenzie and their children Thatcher and Quinn; Megan Ledbetter of Wilton with husband Jon and their children Tallulah, Rowan, and Llewyn; and Jeffrey Saverine of Stamford with his wife Christine.

Charlie also leaves numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends — all of whom enjoyed close, loving relationships with Charlie and who admire him deeply.

The family suggests two organizations for those who wish to honor Charlie’s legacy through donations. The Darien Old Timers Athletic Association P.O. Box 3 Darien, CT 06820 – that raises scholarship funds to assist local students in need. The STAR Foundation, Inc. 182 Wolfpit Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851 – that provides housing, services, and support to individuals of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Donations can be made online at Calling hours will be held at Lawrence Funeral Home on Sunday, January 29 from 2-6 PM. If possible, younger, more able adults are encouraged to park at the nearby Presbyterian Church or Hindley School to help save parking for the less ambulant. A funeral mass will be conducted at 10 AM on Monday, January 30th at St John Church in Darien.

an obituary from Lawrence Funeral Home, where online condolences may be left

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