Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Phillipe R. Petite Jan. 7, 1951 - Sept. 30, 2013 Longtime Government Employee Had a Remarkable Career

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Phillipe R. Petite Jan. 7, 1951 - Sept. 30, 2013 Longtime Government Employee Had a Remarkable Career

Article excerpt

Phillipe R. Petite married at 19 and helped raise two children while doing janitorial work and attending college.

Later, Mr. Petite immersed himself in the Hill District's problems as a legislative assistant to state House Speaker K. Leroy Irvis and tracked minority firms' participation in city business as head of the Equal Opportunity Review Commission.

And he was long the family's "go-to guy," recalled his brother, District Judge Oscar J. Petite Jr.

"We had fights growing up in public housing communities," Judge Petite said. "That's a scary time in your life. If my brother was around, I knew I was going to be all right."

Mr. Petite, 62, died Monday of congestive heart failure at his Lincoln-Lemington home. He had struggled with the illness for some time, said Judge Petite, who had been trying to get his brother to retire.

"I had the honor of working with Phil for nearly 20 years," Councilman Bill Peduto said in a statement. "His mission was justice. His manner was kindness. His motivation was people. I will miss my friend, Pittsburgh will miss a leader."

Also in a statement, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said, "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."

Mr. Petite was born Jan. 7. 1951, in the Hill District, a son of Oscar J. Sr. and Bertha Mae Petite, who worked in the county court system and were active in local politics.

A baseball and basketball player, Mr. Petite graduated from Schenley High School in 1968. He went on to Robert Morris University and received a bachelor's degree in business, while supporting his family with cleaning work at the courthouse, Judge Petite said.

Years later, Mr. Petite received an online master's degree. Judge Petite said he asked his brother whether he was angling for a better job and was startled when he replied, "No, people just listen to you better. …

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