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Port Orchard man pays tribute to father who died in jetliner crash

"Joe Savoie was on the telephone with his mother when both learned his father was dead.He knew his father was in Mexico, but expected him to fly home a week later. It was the first time in his life he'd taken a vacation by himself, said Savoie, a Port Orchard resident. He just needed to get away by himself and work through some things. I guess it took less time than he thought it would. He wasn't supposed to come back for another week, but he changed his plans and took an earlier flight.Stanford Poll, who adopted Savoie when he was 3 years old, was among the 88 passengers and crew members who died Jan. 31 when Alaska Airlines Flight 261 plunged into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California.Poll, 59, was the second husband of Savoie's mother, though they later divorced. He was the only father I ever knew, Savoie said. He wasn't my biological father, but you'd never have known it.Savoie heard about the crash on the radio just like most people. It wasn't until later, after talking with his brother, that he began to fear his father might be on the ill-fated flight. He was discussing his fears with his mother when his brother called on a second line to break the news.The airline called to confirm that Stanford was on the flight, Savoie said. By that time we had a pretty good idea he was, but it still came as a shock.Savoie declined to comment on whether the family is contemplating a lawsuit against the airline.Poll, a lifelong Seattle resident, owned the J&M Cafe in Pioneer Square. He also founded the Goldies restaurant chain. He was one of the people who really helped build Pioneer Square, Savoie said.He was also an avid angler who traveled to Alaska every summer to fish for salmon. On those excursions, Poll had a penchant for taking a daily swim at the fishing hole--without the benefit of a swim suit.One time a tour boat came by while he was swimming, Savoie said. It was kind of embarassing.Savoie traveled to Los Angeles the week following the crash as a guest of the airline to participate in a memorial service for the victims. Around 600 family members attended the vigil, after which they were taken by motorcade to the beach near the crash site.The whole thing was handled really classy, Savoie said. As we were driving to the beach, I looked over at my sister and she had a big smile on her face. She said, 'If Stanford had to go, this is the way he'd choose to do it--with a big parade that shut down the whole city of Los Angeles.' Following the formal service, Savoie staged his own, more personal tribute. In a chartered boat, he returned to the crash site with a bottle of champagne, from which he drank a final toast to his father's memory. He then wrote a note to his father and placed it in the bottle.Then I took off all my clothes and jumped in. I filled the bottle with water and sank it to the bottom, Savoie said. One last nude swim with Stanford. He'd have liked that."

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