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Robert R. Lavelle

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.

Accession Number

A2008.109

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/15/2008

Last Name

Lavelle

Maker Category
Middle Name

Roselle

Schools

University of Pittsburgh

Schenley High School

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland

HM ID

LAV02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cape May Point, Maryland

Favorite Quote

Jesus Loves Me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

10/4/1915

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Pittsburgh

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens

Death Date

7/4/2010

Short Description

Banker and real estate agent Robert R. Lavelle (1915 - 2010 ) was the owner and operator of Lavelle Real Estate and Dwelling House Savings and Loan.

Employment

Dwelling House Savings and Loan Association

Lavelle Real Estate, Inc.

Pittsburgh Courier

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

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

Barrietta Killiebrew

Real estate agent and Contract Specialist, Barrietta Killiebrew was born on September 23, 1960 in Chicago, Illinois. Born to Carol Austin and James Boyd, the oldest of eight children, Killiebrew was raised in St. Louis and Ferguson, Missouri. Killiebrew attended Blewitt Elementary and Ferguson Junior High School in St. Louis. In 1979, she graduated from McClure High School in nearby Ferguson, Missouri. Killiebrew graduated with her A.B. degree from Florissant Valley College in 1982. She went on to earn her B.A. degree in telecommunications from Lindenwood College in St. Charles, Missouri. She interned in public affairs at the local Fox television affiliate, then in 1986, Killiebrew was hired by the United States Department of Defense. She currently holds a position as a Contract Specialist with The St. Louis District, Corps of Engineers.

In 1998, Killiebrew began her career in real estate by working for Caldwell Banker Gundaker. That same year, she focused on purchasing a Ferguson landmark, the Wildwood Plantation. The Wildwood Plantation was built by Africans enslaved by Major Joseph LaMotte more than 150 years ago. Ironically, LaMotte served as Lt. Commander of the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts at Fort Clark, Texas during the Mexican War. He had Wildwood built in 1856, which looks similar to his father’s North Berm House in North Carolina – also built before slavery ended. After the Emancipation Proclamation, the house passed through some six different owners and stood vacant for almost sixty years during the time span of 150 years. Surviving a considerable legal struggle with local housing inspectors, Killiebrew became the first African American owner of the Wildwood Plantation.

Constantly engaged in the restoration of the plantation, Killiebrew was able to get Wildwood officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. Knowledgeable of the stories and mythology surrounding the property, she conducts historical tours by appointment.

Killiebrew and her mother have made Wildwood their home. She has two sons living in Japan: Antoine, who previously served in the U.S. Navy and is currently living in Japan with his wife, Eiko and Danny, who is currently serving in the U.S. Air Force and is stationed in Japan.

Killiebrew was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 18, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.296

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/18/2007

Last Name

Killiebrew

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

McClure High School

St. Louis Community College - Florissant Valley

Lindenwood University

First Name

Barrietta

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

KIL01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Ain't God Good?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Missouri

Birth Date

9/23/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

St. Louis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Real estate agent Barrietta Killiebrew (1960 - ) served with the United States Army Corps of Engineers as a contract specialist from 1986 to 2007. She is the owner of the Wildwood Plantation, which she was able to get officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. The plantation was built by enslaved Africans.

Employment

KTVI-TV (Television station : Saint Louis, Mo.)

Internal Revenue Service

Normandy Public Schools

U.S. Government

Self-employed

Wildwood Plantation

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Barrietta Killiebrew's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Barrietta Killiebrew lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Barrietta Killiebrew talks about her mother's upbringing in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes her father and how she takes after him

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Barrietta Killiebrew recalls her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Barrietta Killiebrew remembers moving frequently as a child around St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Barrietta Killiebrew recalls the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes her childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Barrietta Killiebrew talks about the roles of music and church in her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Barrietta Killiebrew recalls a memorable lesson at Blewitt Elementary School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Barrietta Killiebrew recalls her experiences at Blewitt Elementary School in St. Louis and McClure High School in Ferguson, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes her experience of integrated education at Ferguson Junior High School in Ferguson, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Barrietta Killiebrew talks about her years at McClure High School and St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley in Ferguson, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Barrietta Killiebrew talks about attending Lindenwood College in St. Charles, Missouri, and her marriage at age eighteen

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Barrietta Killiebrew recalls her television production internship at KTVI-TV Channel 2 in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Barrietta Killiebrew talks about working in data processing for the IRS and substitute teaching in Normandy, Missouri public schools

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes working as a contract specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes working in real estate and discovering Wildwood Plantation in Ferguson, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Barrietta Killiebrew explains the history of the LaMotte family and of Wildwood Plantation in Ferguson, Missouri, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Barrietta Killiebrew explains the history of the LaMotte family and of Wildwood Plantation in Ferguson, Missouri, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Barrietta Killiebrew explains the history of the LaMotte family and of Wildwood Plantation in Ferguson, Missouri, pt. 3

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Barrietta Killiebrew talks about the history of the Wildwood Plantation house in Ferguson, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes her struggle to acquire the Wildwood Plantation house in Ferguson, Missouri, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes her struggle to acquire the Wildwood Plantation house in Ferguson, Missouri, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes her house, Wildwood Plantation in Ferguson, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes her court battle over the restoration of Wildwood Plantation in Ferguson, Missouri, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes her court battle over the restoration of Wildwood Plantation in Ferguson, Missouri, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes her court battle over the restoration of Wildwood Plantation in Ferguson, Missouri, pt. 3

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Barrietta Killiebrew talks about managing a building on the National Register of Historic Places

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes the furnishings at Wildwood Plantation

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes living at the historic Wildwood Plantation

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Barrietta Killiebrew talks about visitors and proposals for archeological digs at Wildwood Plantation

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Barrietta Killiebrew talks about her plans for Wildwood Plantation

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Barrietta Killiebrew reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Barrietta Killiebrew talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Barrietta Killiebrew talks about her search for the descendants of enslaved peoples at Wildwood Plantation

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Barrietta Killiebrew describes how she would like to be remembered