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Sheridan Broadcasting founder Ron Davenport Sr. knew Milt Washington when both were kids in Philadelphia. He was there when Milt and his wife, Nancy, moved here in 1968, and he was there at the end, too.

“I was there when he died. And while it wasn’t unexpected, it still hurts. We’d been friends since high school—we were like family,” said Davenport. “He was a great, down-to-earth guy, a dear friend who had a fabulous career and made tremendous contributions to this city in so many ways. His Beacon Construction Company was aptly named because he was a beacon of hope to a lot of people.”

Washington, who parlayed a vice presidency with the Allegheny Rehabilitation Housing Company into a business empire that included ownership of that firm, a construction company, sheet metal and roofing businesses, real estate and investment capital firms, died Oct. 22, less than a month after his 81st birthday.

Though he built his fortune by building much of the affordable housing properties and communities throughout Pittsburgh, he is more often remembered for his charitable donations and fundraising efforts aimed at strengthening small and Black-owned businesses, and community institutions.

“He set the bar on how we should carry ourselves, and he’ll be missed,“ said African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania President and CEO Doris Carson Williams.

“He was a charter member of the chamber, and a corporate sponsor for 15 years.  He was a small business advocate—because he didn’t start out big, and made major contributions to African American businesses in the area. He was a great philanthropist—he and Nancy made major contributions to the August Wilson Center. He was a good soldier.”

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