As baseball icon Dizzy Dean claimed, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.” This quote came to mind during my conversation with Bobby Savoie, AARP State President of Louisiana. He certainly does not brag – he just does it, affirming, “I like what we have done. I like what we have accomplished.” Bobby readily credits other volunteers and even his Acadian ancestors, whom he describes as historically helpful to others. He is an 11th generation American of Acadian/Cajun descent.
Bobby is serving his fifth year as President, the first year of his third two-year term. Next year will be his last. Despite this lengthy tenure, when at pre-pandemic AARP gatherings, and realizing he was not recognized, he said, “I am fine with that.”
Now residing in Livingston Parish, Bobby grew up in Opelousas as one of three siblings. He earned a bachelor’s degree at nearby University of Louisiana – Lafayette before migrating to the University of Oklahoma, graduating with a Master of Science in environmental public health. This education laid the groundwork for an almost 40-year career, most of it with the Office of Public Health, part of the Louisiana Department of Health.
By the time he retired in 2006, Bobby managed a $40 million budget and over 300 employees. While he brought these organization skills to AARP, he believes the multi-tasking he honed with the State as particularly useful in his role as State President.
This is undoubtedly due to the fact he is involved in almost every program of AARP. Presentations on fraud prevention, disaster preparation and response, and caregiving led to the creation of the current Speakers Bureau, as well as the Fraud Watch Network. He helps orient new volunteers to these and other programs.
Bobby also works closely with AARP staff, providing the volunteer perspective in his interactions. In fact, as State President, he recognizes he is the face of AARP and advocates for his fellow volunteers at every opportunity. It is important to him that volunteers feel good about what they do and feel engaged. He praises AARP staff for helping volunteers do what they enjoy without feeling pigeon-holed.
Prior to becoming President, Bobby spent over four years as a volunteer for AARP’s Capital Area Advocacy Team. In this role, he tracked legislation, reviewed bills that had been filed and, during sessions, monitored committee meetings, and testified support or opposition to legislation before committees.
When asked what he enjoys most about being President, Bobby states the interactions he has with people and doing something that helps people, citing AARP’s Driver Safety course and tax aide service as two sterling examples. He is proud that AARP advocates for people and gives them a voice. He is pleased to be part of that voice. He notes one of the challenges as President is ensuring enough volunteers to assist the staff, so people can take advantage of the benefits AARP offers them.
Despite this obvious pride and sense of ownership Bobby brings to AARP, he will be ready to hand over the reins as State President. When asked if he enjoys retirement, he exclaimed, “Absolutely! I can still do a lot of what I want to do.” After he completes his tenure as President, Bobby looks forward to spending more time with his three children, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Even though he lives on a golf course, he rarely plays. However, once his term ends, that may change, too!
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