Raymond P. Lavietes ’36, a committed supporter of Harvard University Athletics, died on Jan. 12 at his winter home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 88.
A two-year letter-winner for the men’s basketball team, Lavietes gave a $3 million gift in 1995 to upgrade Harvard’s basketball gym and provide ongoing support to the men’s and women’s programs. More renovations were done to the facility – named Lavietes Pavilion – prior to the start of this season. The men’s Most Valuable Player award is named in Lavietes’ honor.
“Ray uplifted Harvard basketball,” said then-Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Jeremy Knowles, at the March 1996 dedication of the Ray Lavietes Basketball Pavilion at the Briggs Athletic Center. “The generosity of alumni such as Ray makes it possible for the College to offer excellent sports opportunities.”
Lavietes received the Harvard Medal in 1994, when the Alumni Association praised his “far-reaching, imaginative, and enthusiastic” service to the University. His activities included membership on the Committee for University Resources, the Visiting Committee to Athletics, and the New York Major Gifts Steering Committee. Lavietes served two terms as regional vice president of the Harvard Alumni Association, in addition to his tireless work for the Harvard College Fund. He chaired his 50th class reunion committee, and served as class chair, area chair, and council member for the fund.
Lavietes was raised in New Haven, Conn., and entered Harvard in the fall of 1932. He boxed for the freshman team, before switching to basketball as a sophomore. Wearing No. 22, he scored a career-high 13 points in a 39-31 win over Boston University, and had 12 points against Cornell.
Lavietes lived most of his life in Shelton, Conn., where he ran two family businesses, the Shelton Basket Co. and Shelton Products Co. In recent years, he resided in Stratford, Conn., and had a winter home in Scottsdale.
He was an ardent supporter of the Boys & Girls Club, United Way, and Junior Achievement. A founding member of the Shelton Economic Development Corp., Lavietes committed time and money to help local sports programs, including the Shelton National Little League.
He is survived by his wife, Estelle; a son, Robert H. Lavietes ’71; and two stepsons and their families.