Phil Petite, dedicated civil servant dies suddenly

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PHIL PETITE

By Christian Morrow
Courier Staff Writer
Phillipe R. Petite, long-time office manager for Pittsburgh’s Equal Opportunity Review Commission died during the evening of Sept. 30. The cause was congestive heart failure. He was 62.

But he was much more than a conscientious civil servant.

 

“He was the best big brother anyone could have,” said his brother District Justice Oscar Petite Jr. “He was good at baseball and basketball, and if you were ever in a fight, he was right there.  Just earlier that day he was saying how excited he was that the Pirates were going to the playoffs. Now he’s gone.”

Oscar said he and his brother were brought up to give back to the community, and Petitie had been doing so since he began “slinging a mop at nights in the courthouse” at age 19, while going to Robert Morris (then) College in the daytime.  

He ran the city’s EORC office for the last 19 years, but in his off time, he was a big comic book and movie fan, and was particularly fond of the latest Marvel movies like The Avengers, Spiderman, and the Iron Man movies.

“Oh he loved those,” said Oscar. “He used to be in the Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and one time actually wrote a movie and we filmed it, well part of it. It was called ‘The Prank,’ about a guy who fakes his own death to see how much people love him. And he put me in it, that meant a lot that he would trust me that much.”

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s issued the following statement:

“I am deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Phil Petite, and my prayers and condolences go out to his family and friends. Phil was a dedicated City employee for the last 24 years, and his devoted advocacy for women and minority-owned businesses will not be forgotten. He will be missed.”

Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess knew Petite for years and said Phil was a great asset to the city.

“Phil and I worked closely together to establish protocols for the new directors-level EORC position established by my legislation, and he was very well versed in procedural issues that needed to be addressed,” said Burgess.

“I know he had a bad heart for years. He was a valuable part of city government and he’ll be sorely missed.”

Equal Employment Opportunity Officer Tamiko Stanley said Petite was a mentor as well as a boss.

“Phil was a pioneer, one of the people who make it possible for us to do what we do in equity and diversity. We are standing on his shoulders every day,” she said. “

He was a great guy to work for and was our first Living Legend Honoree for a reason. Both professionally and personally, he was just a great guy.”

Oscar said he tried to get his brother to slow down, and that he had even talked of retiring, but he only knew one speed—full out.

“I just think he worked too hard. We used to do a lot together, and he was always there if I needed advice,” he said. “Now I don’t have that.”

Petite was preceded in death by his sister Lavonne Hartwell, and in addition to Oscar (Sheila), he is survived by brothers Staley Petite (Brenda) of California and Adrian Kent Petite (Brenda) of North Carolina; daughter LaValla Williams (Derek); son Phillipe Petite Jr., and four grandchildren.

Viewing will be Friday Oct. 4, from 2p.m. to 8 p.m. at West Funeral Home, 2215 Wylie Ave., Pittsburgh 15219. Services will be held the next day at 10a.m. at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, 7060 Lemington Ave., Pittsburgh 15206.

 

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