The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Robert R. Lavelle

Share on Social Media

Information about Robert R. Lavelle

Profile image of Robert R. Lavelle

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Banker
Real Estate Agent

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Greens
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cape May Point, Maryland
Favorite Quote:
Jesus Loves Me.

Birthplace

Born:
10/4/1915
Birth Location:
Cleveland, Tennessee

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Banker
Real Estate Agent

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Greens
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cape May Point, Maryland
Favorite Quote:
Jesus Loves Me.

Birthplace

Born:
10/4/1915
Birth Location:
Cleveland
See how Robert R. Lavelle is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Realtor and banker Robert Roselle Lavelle was born on October 4, 1915 in Cleveland, Tennessee, to Franklin Pierce Lavelle, a pastor, and Mary Anderson Lavelle, a domestic. Lavelle’s father passed away when he was nine years old, and Robert, his mother and his four brothers and three sisters met difficult times during the Great Depression, leading to Lavelle dropping out of high school to work several odd jobs.

In 1935, Lavelle reached a turning point when, while working as a dishwasher in a department store restaurant, he was approached by the president of the black-owned Pittsburgh Courier, who offered him a job. It would be the start of Lavelle’s life-changing twenty-one-year career with the paper, where he worked in the office, mailroom and later, in accounting. Lavelle met his future wife, Adah Moore, while working at the courier. The two wed in 1942. Lavelle left the paper for four years when he was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II, during which time, the Courier adopted the “Double V” campaign, signifying victory for African Americans at home and abroad. Lavelle pursued his education in night school while working at the Courier, and received both his B.S. and M.A. degrees from the prestigious University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business in 1951 and 1954, respectively. Lavelle started his own real estate business in 1951, and in 1956, he left the Pittsburgh Courier to work full-time at Lavelle Real Estate. In 1957, Lavelle was made an executive at a savings and loan business. Both Lavelle Real Estate and the savings and loan business focus on the poor black community. Lavelle maintains both of his businesses in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, where he continues to provide loans to black clients who would not otherwise qualify for bank loans.

Lavelle is a longtime member of Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church, where he is an elder, and he also serves on the Board of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He is currently a member of the Board of Visitors at the Katz Graduate School of Business, where the Robert Lavelle Scholarship is named in his honor. In 2008, Lavelle notably switched his voting registration from Republican to Democratic so that he could vote for Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania primary election. He resides in the Hill District of Pittsburgh with his wife, and the couple has two grown sons, Robert Moore Lavelle and John Franklin Lavelle.

Lavelle was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 15, 2008.

Mr. Lavelle passed away on July 4, 2010.

See how Robert R. Lavelle is related to other HistoryMakers
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert R. Lavelle's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert R. Lavelle lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert R. Lavelle describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers his mother's illness
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert R. Lavelle talks about his mother's childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert R. Lavelle describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers his early experiences of segregation in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert R. Lavelle recalls his early understanding of racism
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers his father's commitment to his work
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert R. Lavelle recalls his father's death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert R. Lavelle lists his siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert R. Lavelle talks about the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert R. Lavelle describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert R. Lavelle talks about his experiences at Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert R. Lavelle talks about his experiences at Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers leaving high school to work
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert R. Lavelle talks about being hired at the Pittsburgh Courier
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers his first week at the Pittsburgh Courier
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Robert R. Lavelle recalls joining the NAACP
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert R. Lavelle recalls his first day at the Pittsburgh Courier
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert R. Lavelle describes his working relationship with Ira Lewis and Robert Lee Vann
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers boxer Joe Louis
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert R. Lavelle describes his famous acquaintances
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert R. Lavelle talks about finishing college after leaving the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers marrying his wife
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert R. Lavelle recalls attending the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert R. Lavelle talks about a series of burglaries at his home during the 1970s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers his first promotion in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert R. Lavelle describes his experiences as a sergeant in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers applying for Officer Candidate School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert R. Lavelle talks about his decision to leave the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers fighting against discrimination
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert R. Lavelle recalls the beginning of his career in real estate
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers founding Lavelle Real Estate, Inc. and Dwelling House Savings and Loan Association
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert R. Lavelle talks about the mission of Dwelling House Savings and Loan Association
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers joining Pittsburgh's Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church after his mother's death, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers joining Pittsburgh's Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church after his mother's death, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert R. Lavelle talks about his challenges at Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert R. Lavelle talks about his challenges at Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert R. Lavelle recalls overcoming his academic obstacles
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers filing a suit against Greater East End Multilist, Inc., pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers filing a suit against Greater East End Multilist, Inc., pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert R. Lavelle talks about his professional accomplishments
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert R. Lavelle recalls serving on the board of directors of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert R. Lavelle reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert R. Lavelle reflects upon the legacy of his parents
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert R. Lavelle reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert R. Lavelle talks about his family
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers a confrontation with his son, John Lavelle, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert R. Lavelle remembers a confrontation with his son, John Lavelle, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Robert Lavelle talks about 'Bodies: The Exhibition'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Robert Lavelle describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Robert R. Lavelle narrates his photographs