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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

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/4/1915

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Pittsburgh

Country

USA

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