Sir William Michael LaVette M.D., GKHS

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Sir Dr. William Michael LaVette, 88, of Los Angeles, Calif., died Sunday, July 6, 2014, at Ronald Reagan Medical Center, Los Angeles. He was the husband of the former Mary Elizabeth Williams.

Dr. William M. LaVette was born in Carbondale, Pa., on June 25, 1926. His maternal grandparents were born in Czechoslovakia, and were citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, his grandfather having served for two years in the Austrian Army from 1894 to 1896. They emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1897.

Dr. LaVette was reared by his maternal grandparents, Michael and Anna Hydock, in Forest City, Pa., and graduated from Forest City High School in 1944. William's grandmother told him he had three choices of what he could do with his life: 1. Become a Priest, 2. Become a Lawyer or 3. Become a Doctor. After serving two years in the U.S. Medical Corps of the U.S. Air Force from 1944 to 1946, he attended Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. He had been doing third-year college chemistry at the age of 16, which later helped him in his studies at Seton Hall, where he did his four-year pre-med degree, remarkably, in under three years, graduating in 1949. His choice had been made.

He then attended Marquette University Medical School in Milwaukee, Wis., graduating with an M.D. degree in 1954. During this time, he met Mary Elizabeth Williams, a dietitian, after being set up on a blind date by a fellow medical student. They became engaged and two years later, married. While in Milwaukee, Mary gave birth to William Jr. in 1953 and Brian in 1954.

His internship was served in Milwaukee from 1954 to 1955 at St. Joseph's Hospital. He became a dermatology resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore from 1955 to 1956. At this time, he was also a Fellow of Dermatology at the Veteran's Hospital in Fort Howard in Baltimore, Md. William completed his dermatology residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City from 1956 to 1958. During this time, Mary gave birth to their third son, Barry, while in New York in 1957.

Dr. LaVette then decided to move his family to Los Angeles, Calif., to live and set up his practice. Before setting off, Mary gave birth to Maureen in Mary's hometown of Dubuque, Iowa, and then moved to Los Angeles five weeks later. Their fifth child, Patricia, was born two years later in Santa Monica, Calif.

William practiced in Los Angeles from 1958 until he retired in 2000. From 1958 to 1960, he assisted the president of the California Medical Association in practice as a dermatologist. Before opening his own practice, he worked in the emergency room at Pico Rivera Hospital, the Ross Loos Medical Clinic and the Van Nuys Clinic. He opened his own medical practice in North Hollywood, Calif., in 1970, the Allergy and Dermatology Clinic of the San Fernando Valley, and then later in Burbank, Calif., where he practiced until 2000. The quote on his business card was, "Health Is Your Most Precious Possession."

He was a proud and essential member of the Motion Picture Health and Welfare organization, where he was its main dermatologist, and treated many individuals who worked within the Motion Picture Industry and their families, as well as many well-known actors and celebrities.

Dr. LaVette was a diplomate of the American Academy of Dermatology and a Life Fellow within the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

In 1994, William was knighted into the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, a Papal Equestrian order founded in 1099 A.D. by Godfrey of Bouillon, where he became a Grand Knight in 1997.

William was known for his great generosity to many charitable organizations and also the Catholic Church, as is the tradition of the Knights.

Dr. LaVette was married to Mary E. LaVette. They recently celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary. He is the father of five children, William Jr., Brian (married to Brenda), Barry, Maureen (married to Leon Isaac Kennedy) and Patricia; and grandfather to Ian and Leah Szeliga.

Dr. LaVette was actively involved in supporting Seton Hall University in New Jersey, Marquette University in Wisconsin, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God, the Motion Picture Health & Welfare in Los Angeles, St. Timothy Church in Los Angeles and the Austrian-American Council West and the Austrian American Club of Los Angeles, of which he was a member since 1964.

He was a member of the following medical organizations: American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association, California Medical Association, Los Angeles County Medical Association, Los Angeles Metropolitan Dermatology Society, New York County Medical Society, International Oceanographic Society, Fellow Royal Society of Health, and the San Fernando Valley Dermatology Society and the California Dermatology Surgery Association.

William will be greatly missed and remembered by his family, patients and friends. He was a humble and non-boastful professional in all things, and had a great love and passion for everything in life, especially his family. He is survived by his wife, Mary; his sons, William Jr., Brian and Barry; his daughters, Maureen and Patricia; and his grandchildren, Ian Christopher and Leah Michaela; a sister, Miriam, New Jersey; and brother, Michael, South Carolina; nephews, John, Michael and Robert Mania; and niece and nephew, Michelle and Michael Lovito.

The funeral will be Saturday in St. Joseph's Church, Delaware Street, Forest City, with Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m.

Interment, Sacred Heart Cemetery, Forest City.

Friends may call Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until Mass time at the church. Arrangements are by the Jones & Brennan Funeral Home, 430 Main St., Forest City.

Online condolences may be sent at


Funeral Home
Jones & Brennan Funeral Home
430 Main Street Forest City, PA 18421
(570) 785-3500
Funeral Home Details
Published in Scranton Times on July 16, 2014
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