Dr. Arthur LaVelle, of Elmhurst, died this past autumn at the age of 96, leaving his wife of 71 years, Faith, and daughter Audrey and granddaughter Jocelyn. He was born in North Dakota and spent his childhood in a farming community established by Scandinavian immigrants. At the age of seven, an infection left him profoundly deaf, a disability he contended with and overcame diligently for the rest of his life.
During World War II his family moved to Seattle, Washington, doing factory work that supported the war effort. Since Arthur’s deafness prevented any military service for him, he continued working while becoming the first member of his family to enter college. He graduated from the University of Washington, in Seattle, with a BS degree in Biology. Graduate work followed at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, with an MA in Biology and marriage to Faith, a fellow graduate student.
The next move was to Philadelphia, where he earned his PhD in Anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He was soon invited to join the Department of Anatomy in the College of Medicine, University of Illinois, in Chicago. He remained there for 35 years, teaching pre-professional students, doing grant supported laboratory research, and publishing research articles and reviews in the field of developmental neurocytology. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1987.
Because his wife was also a Professor of Anatomy, they shared interests in the field of neuroscience and in the training of the young people they taught. At home in Elmhurst they also enjoyed participating in the changing interests and activities of their daughter as she grew. In the summer they took time to travel across North America, always by car, usually camping, and visiting many national parks and monuments.
Arthur had quite a collection of tools and gadgets at home and found many ways to use them around the house and yard. For a change of pace, he competed in target archery, wrote poetry, read widely, played the banjo and harmonica, and listened to music. For all who knew him, he was a man who lived his life seriously, but with courtesy, good humor, and an ever-exploring mind.
A memorial gathering was held in Wilder Mansion in Elmhurst on January 3, 2019, with private interment at Mount Emblem Cemetery. Arrangements by Ahlgrim Funeral Home. Info 630-834-3515 or www.ahlgrim.com.