Mr. James Lavelle Pittman Sr., 90, passed away peacefully March 1, 2019, at home. He was preceded in death by his wife Eva Dell Pittman and his parents, James Harvey and Agnes Pittman. He is survived by his four children: Ann Fosburgh of Bloomingdale, James Pittman of Statesboro, Connie (Tom) Black of Macon and Ronnie (Lisa) Pittman of Statesboro, eight grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother William Lamar Pittman and sister Jeanette Clark both of Waycross.
Lavelle grew up in Waycross, GA, and began working for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad when he was just 16. He began his career as an apprentice, and made railroad mechanic by the time he was 17. Throughout his 45 year career, he held many other positions including car inspector. He was employed by ACL, Seaboard Coastline, Savannah Atlanta Railroads and CSX. He and his family spent many years in Savannah and Waycross, with a brief stint in Augusta, before making his last move to Savannah with CSX Railroad in the late 1960s. In 1975, Lavelle and Eva Dell bought a home in Ellabell.
In August 2017, as his health began to decline, Lavelle moved to Macon with his daughter Connie and her husband Tom. Lavelle enjoyed being in church with their congregation, going out to lunch, and an occasional shopping trip with Connie and some of the grands and great grands. He loved to sing hymns while Connie and his grandson Greg played the piano. During the final weeks of his life, he refused to be sad or worried about his future. Instead, he sang the hymns that he loved so much, prayed for his family and faced each day with joy.
Lavelle was known to his railroad coworkers as “the preacher man.” He always believed in the importance of doing things right. By being the honorable man he was, he was able to share his faith by the kind of life that he lived. He passed that strong work ethic down to his children by being their example. He delighted his children and grandchildren with his railroad stories and by mimicking the sound of a train whistle. After he retired from CSX in 1991, Lavelle continued to work. He helped many of the elderly in Pembroke and surrounding areas by cutting their grass and doing small handyman jobs for folks who couldn’t afford a professional. He and his wife, Eva Dell, also helped many people get to their doctor’s appointments and hospital visits even as far as Augusta.
Lavelle loved Eva Dell faithfully and unconditionally for 65 years. No one ever heard him say a cross word to her. She often said what she thought, and he just smiled. She didn’t pull any punches, but he never let it bother him too much. He would just laugh and tease her. They seemed to be the perfect balance, and the Lord continued to bless their love and commitment to each other. His life forever changed when he lost her in 2012, but he remained confident that he would see her again one day.
Lavelle’s four children never outgrew calling him “Daddy.” With God’s help, their Daddy always found a way to provide for their family. When his car broke down once, he rode a bicycle into town to get the parts to fix it so he would be able to go to work the next day. He taught them how to love the Lord and the meaning of faith. In their eyes, there would never be another man quite like their Daddy.
To his fellow church members and friends, he was known as Brother Pittman. He was a longtime member and deacon of the Savannah Church God of Prophecy. His love for the Lord was clear, and he was always willing to lend a hand to work at his church. He was instrumental in getting a new church built for the Savannah congregation. The journey was a long one, but he said that God tested them to build their faith throughout the process. His pastor, Rev. Mark Minter, said Brother Pittman was his biggest supporter and encouraged him to continue the building program when it seemed impossible. The new church, Bloomingdale Fellowship Church of God of Prophecy, was completed in 2001. His mark and contribution will never be forgotten.
By the time his first grandchild was born, he became known as Papa. He was everything you would think a Papa should be. He was the Papa who hooked his trailer up to his lawn mower to take them for a ride, and the Papa who let them drink coffee right out of his cup. He never lavished them with expensive toys, but he let them run through his garden sprinklers until their skin stung. He gave them free reign of his yard to ride bikes and play games, and he took them swimming in Black Creek. He taught them how to pick, wash, peel, shuck and shell everything he grew in his garden. He’s the one who taught them how to chew sugar cane, eat cane syrup with their biscuit, and how much salt was needed on a slice of watermelon. He taught them how to enjoy the simple things, and now that they are older, they realize those small simple things really were the big things. He was truly one of the finest men they have ever known.
To say this place will never be the same without him here would be an understatement. His family and friends will miss his smile, laughter and humor. They will miss his gentleness and his advice. They will even miss the sound of him shaking the ice in his tea glass and how he enjoyed a good cup of coffee. They will certainly miss his prayers and his hugs. But even through their grief, they are comforted. Their lives have been enriched with so much joy for so many years thanks to him. They are all better people for having known him and loved him. His coffee cup may be empty now, but he left their hearts full.
Visitation will be held from 10-12 pm on Monday, March 4, 2019 at Bloomingdale Fellowship Church of God of Prophecy.
The funeral service will be held at 12 pm in the church sanctuary with Pastor Mark Minter and Pastor Tom Black officiating.
Burial will follow at Hillcrest Abbey West.
To sign the online register, please visit: www.flandersmorrisonfuneralhome.com.
Flanders Morrison Funeral Home and Crematory of Pembroke is in charge of arrangements.