George M. Sage, 1931-2006, was one of the most beloved Rhode Islanders of his generation. A gifted businessman, Mr. Sage had an even more substantial impact for his philanthropic endeavors, planning and executing a legacy of giving that will benefit Rhode Islanders for years to come.
George was born in Rochester, New York in 1931, the son of the late Leon W. and Katherine (Motley) Sage. He graduated from Deerfield Academy and Babson College before arriving in Rhode Island, where he began a 43-year residence in Barrington.
Sage’s major business venture was in the field of transportation, where he parlayed a one-bus route transporting apple pickers to and from work into the very successful Bonanza Bus Company. To make way for the Civic Center/Convention Center complex, George orchestrated the move of the Providence bus terminal from its congested site on Sabin Street to a new, more accessible facility just off Interstate 95 at the Providence-Pawtucket city line where Bonanza’s successor, Peter Pan Bus Lines, has operated since 2003. The present interstate bus transit system and the motorcoach industry owes much to the business acumen of George Sage.
An avid sports enthusiast and tennis player, George owned the Rhode Island Reds Hockey Team from 1969 thru 1976. To give a home to the Reds, he helped to spearhead the construction of the Providence Civic (now Dunkin Donuts) Center on the site of the old Sabin Street bus terminal.
George was also a dedicated philanthropist whose business success proved to be a “bonanza” for local schools and charities. His lifetime service with the United Way Organization included several years as the treasurer of United Way International and a year as Chairman of the Board in 1987. He was a trustee of St. Andrews school in Barrington and chaired two successful capital campaigns, for which a gymnasium there has been named in his honor. George also left a four-million-dollar bequest to St. Andrew’s–by-far largest gift the school has ever received.
Despite his public persona, George’s family was the centerpiece of his life. He was the beloved husband of Barbara (Humphrey) Sage and the father of Anne Sage and George ‘Jim’ Sage Jr. ;He held his adopted state in such high esteem that he established a donor advised fund at the Rhode Island Foundation with his children as its advisers. Truly it may be said that despite his death in 2006, George Sage’s generous heart continues to beat for the benefit of his fellow Rhode Islanders.