Ralph E. “Yo” LaVelle

Ralph E. “Yo” LaVelle, 77, of 415 North Saint Marys Road, passed away Sunday evening, November 4, 2012, at the Elk Regional Health Center following a brief illness. Dedicated family man, proud veteran and member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, Yo passed peacefully surrounded by his loving family.

Yo was born February 24, 1935 in Platte, South Dakota, son of the late Harry and Annetta Ferris LaVelle. Orphaned as a toddler, Ralph was a resident of and attended the Marty Indian School on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. As a member of that extended family, Yo developed a lifetime love of sports; starring on the school’s six man football team and making lifetime friends, such as Vernon Clark. He also had a lifetime appreciation for the clergy who helped to point him in the right direction in life. He was a member of the Sacred Heart Church in Saint Marys.

After graduating from high school, Yo joined another tight-knit clan, the United States Marines, serving honorably for eight years as a Lance Corporal. Always Faithful (Semper Fi!), Ralph later served for years as a leading member of the Saint Marys Servicemen’s Burial Detail.

Shortly after his arrival in Saint Marys in 1959, Yo began his own family; meeting, courting and marrying the beautiful Joyce Mahovlich on October 1, 1960 in the Sacred Heart Church. They raised four daughters together in a tight and loving home in “Lynchville.”To support his growing family, Yo worked for seventeen years at Keystone Carbon Company before moving on to Windfall Products until his retirement in 1997 after over 20 years of service. He was an indispensable tool and die specialist, even traveling to Germany for the company. Again, members of this work family, such as “camp” buddy Tom Arnold, stayed close for life.

Yo endured heartbreak as well, first with the tragic death of his third-born daughter, Annette, then with the passing of beloved Joyce on May 15, 1989 after years of battling cancer. Once again the faithful one, Yo never remarried or even dated anyone else.

In retirement, he lived a very full life. He especially enjoyed watching Gerry’s boys, Bobby, Randy and Ricky, star in countless games and making him a very proud grandfather. During the seventies he taught himself to play tennis and joined another close-knit group of enthusiasts, such as Gordon Daghir and John Brock, to play on a regular basis. He was “tickled pink” when granddaughter Hannah caught the tennis bug and starred in high school. He and his tennis buddies later devoted countless hours to helping coach Elk County Catholic girls tennis team.

Yo loved traveling to Key West to stay with daughter Lisa and her husband Russ during the winter months, basking in the sun, playing tennis and
socializing with anyone and everyone. He loved meeting and making new friends and, of course, visiting his family. He looked forward to stops to see family in Bumpass, VA and Frank Straub in the Keys.

He loved taking excursions to western New York to visit his oldest daughter Chris and family. There he got to play “farmer” and wrestle with his tractor. At Tom Arnold’s camp, he kept the fire going; fed the deer apples and pears and enjoyed yet another welcoming family.

Ralph lived a long and fruitful life, to say the least. All of his families will miss him.

With his “Hanta Yo” (clear the way!) motor home, Yo and his friends would travel to Penn State University football games as far away as Nebraska; country music festivals in Ohio and Nascar in Watkins Glen. Perhaps it was in his “Indian” DNA that made Yo embrace the open road and its adventures, but never venturing far from his roots that he put down in Saint Marys.

In addition to his parents, wife and daughter, he was preceded in death by his sisters, Pearl Klopfer and Chris LaVelle; and by his brothers, Eugene (Harry) and William LaVelle.

He is survived by daughters, Christine Leach (Gary) of Hornell, NY; Geraldine Pearsall of Saint Marys and Lisa Meyer (Russell) of Saint Marys,
former son-in-law, Robert Pearsall; and four grandchildren, Bobby Pearsall, Randy Pearsall and his wife Ryan, Ricky Pearsall and Hannah Leach.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at the Sacred Heart Church on Friday, November 9, 2012, at 10:00 AM with Reverend Eric Vogt, OSB, friend, officiating. Full military rights will be accorded by the Saint Marys Servicemen’s Burial Detail. Burial will follow in the Saint Mary’s Cemetery.

Visitation is at the Lynch-Radkowski Funeral Home on Thursday evening from 6 to 8 PM.

Memorials, if desired, may be made to the Sacred Heart Church, 325 Center Street, Saint Marys, PA 15857; ECCSS Athletic Association (Tennis
Program), 114 Queens Road, Saint Marys, PA 15857 or Saint Marys Servicemen’s Burial Detail, c/o The American Legion, 168 Center Street, Saint Marys, PA 15857.

Rocco and Beth Petrilli November 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Our heart is broken by the loss of our friend “The Indian”. We will forever cherish the memories of the PSU tailgates, the romps with Gordon and Sam, the spontaneous visits to our many homes and places of work, time spent in the Beaver Stadium portals at halftime, the many miles of silence filled love… the list of good times are endless. We will never forget the personal sacrifice of his time to help in Grand Rapids, Mich. in the interest of my (Rocco’s) career as well as all the friendship and support that he offered throughout trying times.

Hanta Yo was a true and dear friend. Our heart and prayers go out to his loving family. Thank you for sharing him with us.

Rick and Laura Ehrensberger November 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm

We were sorry to hear of your dad’s passing. He was a very kind and loving man. He certainly lived life to the fullest. I can only imagine the joy he felt when he was reunited with his beautiful daughter and beloved wife. He will be greatly missed, but always in our hearts until we meet again.
With deepest sympathy,
Rick and Laura

Pam and Steve Fritz November 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Gerri and Family,
We are so sorry for your loss of your dad. We got to know him through his teaching tennis to Megan, and he sure had a way with those girls. They really loved him and I believe he had a special place in his heart for all the girls. Know he will be so missed by many of us and that he really made an impact on many people’s lives. What a great guy he was.
Again, we are so sorry for your loss.
Steve and Pam Fritz

Marcy (Dolan) Delaney November 6, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Susan Strandberg November 7, 2012 at 5:56 am

Dear Gerry,
I am so sorry. I know how difficult this has to be for you and your sisters, and all of your children. Your Dad was truly something special! May your many wonderful memories help to sustain you during this very difficult time, and always.

Phyllis Michelini November 7, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Chris and family of Ralph LaVelle,
I am sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I’ll always remember visiting your home and your dad sitting in the room off the dining room watching TV or reading. He seldom had much to say to us giggly teenage girls but was always pleasant.
My condolences,

Jolene November 7, 2012 at 10:32 pm

There are no words to make you feel better, after your dad has passed. I am sorry that I never got to meet such a wonderful man that you had written about. But if he is anything like you then he was just as wonderful and more. Keep your faith and he will always be with you. I miss you. Take care of yourself. A friend always.

Laura and Brian Claypool, and Nick, David and Tommy November 7, 2012 at 10:38 pm

So sorry to hear about your Dad and Grandpa. Love how he was always at the kids’ games. I am sure he will be missed terribly. Thinking of you at this time, we won’t be able to get to the wake, or funeral due to my holiday open house, which is scheduled during those times! Know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.
Think of him often and laugh a lot with all the great memories you have of him! He would want all of you to smile!

Leo and Ellen Lenze November 8, 2012 at 7:35 am

Gerry, Chris and Lisa,
We are so sorry for your lost. We have many fond memories of your father. He will be greatly missed by so many.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Leo and Ellen Lenze

George Lowell November 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Christine/Hannah Sioux, Gerry, Lisa, and your families,

It is with sad heart that I send you my condolences. Although I only spent a small amount of time with Ralph, the thought of him always brings a smile to my face. He definitely was a kind, gentle and unique man who left a big impression on anyone who was fortunate enough to cross his path. Hold his memory close to your heart.

Gordon Jesberger November 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I am deeply saddened to learn of “Indian’s” passing. He was a great friend and invaluable part of my early days in the powdered metal industry (Windfall Products). As one of my mentors Ralph never hesitated to offer his experience, knowledge, and advise. As a result of our working relationship I had the pleasure of traveling in the “Hanta Yo!” motorhome to two NASCAR races in Indianapolis. To this day, I am still amazed at how we were able to start up a conversation with just about anyone. In fact, during our 1995 visit to “The Brickyard”, Ralph was able to “B.S.” his way into one of the luxury VIP suites overlooking the track. While the rest of us were cooking hot dogs back at the RV, Ralph was eating and drinking with the dignitaries! I will miss his wicked sense of humor and his infectious smile. I am truly sorry for your loss, and my thoughts are with you.

Tom & Tammi Cotter November 9, 2012 at 8:50 am

Dear Geri & Family —

We were very saddened to hear of the loss of Ralph. He is such a sweet, sweet man and we will miss him. Some of my favorite memories were tailgating with you and him at the football games back when Pat and Ricky were both on the team. He was always so charming and fun to be around. I would love to visit with him when I would by chance catch him at Dino’s. Please know that you are all in our thoughts and prayers. I am sure you are comforted to know that he is now with your Mom and sister. Much love to all of you in this difficult time.

Mark Bankovic November 9, 2012 at 5:59 pm

So sorry to hear of Ralph’s passing. I enjoyed many a tennis match with him and Gordon. As much as I enjoyed the tennis, the constant bantering between Ralph and Gordon was always the highlight of the match. I don’t know how much he will enjoy the tennis in heaven, his evil backspin surely would not be allowed there.

Kay Goetz Barber November 10, 2012 at 9:46 am

Dear Chris, Geri & Lisa;
Very sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. I always remember having fun at the sleepovers during our middle school years. Your Dad & Mom always were hospitable & fun. Please know that you are in my prayers.

Heidi Garner November 10, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Dear Gerri and family,
So sorry to hear about your Dad. Ralph always had a smile and something wise to say. Remembering all the times Bruce and Ralph and the rest of the guys spent at the Casino after work on Fridays and sharing drinks. Enjoy knowing your Dad and how special his family was to him. God bless you and yours at this time.

Lisa Luchini November 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I am so very sorry to hear of your father’s passing. My condolences to you and your entire family. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
With Sympathy,

Mike Brock November 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm

To Ralph’s family,

My sincere condolences to you. I knew Ralph a long time, back to my grade school days and tennis at Memorial Park. More recently, he spent a few days a week in the summer playing tennis with my father and their buddies at my father’s court. A nice guy, a good friend, and I’m sure a wonderful father.

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