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Quality marked life of Pittsburgh Brewing exec

Dawn Law
| Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2001

A beer taster by profession, George Leaver was often asked to name what brand he favored.

'Your favorite is the beer from the brewery you work for,' Mr. Leaver, quality control director at Pittsburgh Brewing Co. in the late 1970s and 1980s, would respond.

George B. Leaver, a resident of Shaler, died Saturday, Sept. 1, 2001, in UPMC Passavant of complications of a stroke. He was 79.

He was born in Montreal, a son of Charles and Olive Palmer Leaver. In the 1930s, his father brought the family to New York City when he began working for the former Imperial Oil.

Mr. Leaver graduated from high school in Westfield, N.J., in 1939 and was attending Rutgers University Agricultural School when he signed up with the Canadian Navy during World War II.

He served on convoy duty in the North Atlantic between Ireland and Nova Scotia. After his discharge in 1945, he returned to Rutgers and completed his bachelor's and master's degrees.

A chance meeting with Lavina Oechler of Madison, N.J., led to a date at the movies and they married in 1948. They began married life in Baltimore, where Mr. Leaver worked at Calvert's Distillery.

He was later employed with P. Ballantine Brewery in Newark and a brewery in East Orange before moving to Pittsburgh to work for Pittsburgh Brewing Co. in 1978.

Family said his work in the labs of the brewery included perfecting new beers, comparing brands by taste, and purity testing. He retired from Pittsburgh Brewing in 1984.

Earlier in life, Mr. Leaver enjoyed sailing. The couple had also enjoyed travel and skiing. They also cared for several adopted cats.

Mr. Leaver suffered a paralyzing stroke in 1996, and his wife devoted her time to caring for him.

'We had a lot of good times I'm grateful for,' she said. 'He was my buddy. We did everything together.'

Mr. Leaver was a past president of the Bernards Township Kiwanis Club in New Jersey and was past president of the Kiwanis Club of Glenshaw.

He is survived by his wife, Lavina S. Leaver; a sister, Dorothy Howard of St. Petersburg, Fla.; a brother, Ross Leaver of New Jersey; nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by a brother, Charles P. Leaver.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Neely Funeral Home, 2208 Mt. Royal Blvd., Glenshaw.

Memorials are suggested to the Kiwanis Club of Glenshaw, 130 Wetzel Road, Glenshaw, PA 15116, or Animal Friends, 2643 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

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