Lawrence Pilot Jr.; ran rail-building firm

Lawrence E. Pilot Jr.
Lawrence E. Pilot Jr.
Posted: March 06, 2014

Lawrence E. Pilot Jr., 90, of Ocean City, N.J., former president of his family's railroad construction firm in Philadelphia, died Saturday, March 1, at Martin Medical Center in Stuart, Fla.

In the 1920s, Mr. Pilot's father founded the firm that became Lawrence E. Pilot & Sons, his younger brother T. Ronald said.

Ronald Pilot said that after their father departed from the business, Mr. Pilot's "title was president and mine was vice president."

The firm, with headquarters at 30th Street Station, "built bridges and rail yards" for the Pennsylvania Railroad and Lehigh Valley Railroad, among others, he said.

"The Detroit, Toledo & Ironton was a big part of our business," Ronald Pilot said. "We hired, at times, 400, 500 employees," he said.

After the 1970 bankruptcy of Penn Central Corp., the successor to the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Pilot firm continued its railroad construction work for other firms until it closed in the mid-1980s.

Mr. Pilot graduated from St. Joseph's Preparatory School in 1941 and studied for a year at what is now St. Joseph's University before entering the wartime Navy.

He was a civil engineer with the Seabees, working on Okinawa and other places. After the war, he earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering at Villanova University.

Though he switched from St. Joseph's to Villanova, "he was a great lover of the Jesuits," who had taught him at the Prep, his brother said.

"He was tickled to death with the new pope," Francis, the first Jesuit to hold that office.

In the 1960s, Mr. Pilot was commodore of the Ocean City Yacht Club "and stayed on the board up until his death," his brother said.

He was a member of Llanerch Country Club in Havertown and the Great Bay Country Club in Somers Point, N.J.

Besides his brother, Mr. Pilot is survived by friend Marilouise Berdow and several nieces and nephews.

A viewing was set from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 8, at St. Bernadette Church, 1035 Turner Ave., Drexel Hill, before a 10:30 a.m. Funeral Mass there, with interment in SS. Peter & Paul Cemetery.

Donations may be sent to Glen Mills Schools Scholarship Fund, 185 Glen Mills Rd., Glen Mills, Pa., 19342.

Condolences may be offered to the family at

610-313-8134 @WNaedele

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