In Memoriam: Joseph Michael Lavelle
Joseph M. Lavelle, 60, died on September 10 in Charleston, South Carolina.
He was the president and founder of Marcol Dredging Company, which he began in 1974 with a Mud Cat dredge. Through the years he carved a niche for himself in the Southeast United States doing specialty dredging jobs with an eight-inch Mud Cat, the 12-inch Longbay and the 10-inch Butch Cassidy.
Mr. Lavelle’s unexpected death of heart failure came in the midst of a happy and successful life. He was highly respected in business and in his personal life. The week before his death had attended the Corps of Engineers South Atlantic Division dredging meeting, where he met with many colleagues for what was to be the last time.
“We have always had a wonderful relationship with Joe,” said David Dent, president of Southern Dredging Company. “He was a wonderful business person, and there was another side of Joe. He did a lot of charity work and was a good person in general. It is unbelievable that he was gone that quickly, and he will be missed,” said Dent.
Marcol is scheduled to subcontract a portion of Southern’s contract in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the officers of Southern are now working with Mr. Lavelle’s son Craig, who has taken over operation of the business.
Thomas Wright, president of Wright Dredging Company, said “Joe and I go back a long way. He was at Bishop England (high school) in Charleston while I was at St. Andrews (another Charleston high school.)” The two worked together the first time when Wright Dredging Company had the contract to dredge the Magnetic Silencing Facility in King’s Bay, Georgia, and they worked out a successful plan for performing the difficult and sensitive job.
“Joe was a very knowledgeable individual. He had small dredges and a unique position in the industry,” said Wright. They often made important deals on a handshake. “Whatever Joe said, you could carry it to the bank,” said Wright.
Hammond Johnson, president of Marinex Dredging Company in Charleston was one of Mr. Lavelle’s closest business friends, and the two had lunch together hours before Mr. Lavelle suffered a fatal heart attack.
“Joe was not a competitor of mine, so we could discuss work-related issues freely,” said Johnson. “He came to me about eight years ago and asked if I would bond a job for him, and we worked a deal on a handshake. Joe lived up to his end of the deal,” he said.
“It’s very seldom you find a truly good person. I didn’t realize how many people he had touched until his funeral. He volunteered cooking meals for the homeless, and was involved in many charities,” said Johnson.
Marcol Dredging Company will continue in business under the management of Craig Lavelle.
Joseph Lavelle had a B.S. in electrical engineering from Clemson University and a masters degree in business administration from Roosevelt University. He was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and a number of community and church organizations. He is survived by his wife, Gail Stubbs Lavelle, his daughter Kristen Lavelle, son Craig Lavelle and two brothers, John L. Lavelle and Thomas C. Lavelle, all of Charleston, South Carolina.
Contributions can be made in his name to Bishop England High School Endowment Fund, 363 Seven Farms Drive, Daniel Island, South Carolina 29492.
Editor’s note: IDR published a profile of Joseph Lavelle and Marcol Dredging Company in the September/October 1999 issue. See “Marcol Finds Specialty Niche in Southeast United States,” page 10.