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Trib real estate writer Spatter ‘worked right to the end’

Tribune-Review
| Friday, November 28, 2014 11:03 p.m.
ClintonSpatter
John Schisler | Trib Total Media
Trib real estate writer Sam Spatter meets former President Bill Clinton at a memorial tribute to late Tribune-Review owner Dick Scaife on Aug. 2, 2014 at Scaife's boyhood home in the Laurel Highlands.

Sam Spatter was a pro’s pro to his co-workers, a journalist whose advice was sought by developers and real estate agents alike, and perhaps most importantly, a loving, dedicated husband, father and grandfather.

Samuel L. Spatter, longtime real estate writer for the Tribune-Review and a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Realtors Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh, was on his way to work Friday morning when he collapsed and died.

He celebrated his 87th birthday on Nov. 21 and finished writing his last story — about the development at the former Schenley High School — on Wednesday afternoon.

“Sam was the consummate professional,” said Managing Editor Jim Cuddy Jr. “We benefited greatly from his experience and knowledge of Pittsburgh. We will miss him.”

One of the region’s leading developers, Jim Scalo of Burns & Scalo Real Estate, said he was never too busy to take a call from Mr. Spatter.

“I’ve been in this business for 30 years, and when I was a 21-year-old developer, and I was trying to get coverage for a project, Sam took the time to talk to me,” said Scalo, recalling the days Mr. Spatter was real estate editor for The Pittsburgh Press.

“Sam told me, ‘When you have steel in the air, I’ll come out and take a picture. All you have is a rendering, which means it may not be built. Steel in the air is a story,’ ” Scalo said.

“I never forgot that, and I always talked to him when he called,” Scalo said. “He will be missed; he was a great man and legend in the real estate business for a long time. He was a man of the people and enjoyed what he did. It’s great that he worked right to the end. That’s a testament to Sam.”

Lucas Piatt, chief operating officer of Millcraft Industries Inc. of Washington County and Pittsburgh, said Mr. Spatter was “a good-old nice guy.”

“Since I’ve been involved in the city, Sam was always on top of the story. He was very trustworthy, and he always knew what was going on,” Piatt said. “He lived a great life, and I considered him a great friend. It was always a good conversation with Sam; he loved Pittsburgh.”

Mr. Spatter earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Pittsburgh.

His first newspaper position was with the former Valley Daily News in Tarentum in 1952. He worked in Equitable Gas Co.’s public relations department and in the city of Pittsburgh Planning Department as public information officer before joining The Pittsburgh Press in 1966.

He became the paper’s real estate editor four years later, a position he held until the newspaper ceased publication in 1992. He began writing for the Tribune-Review in 1994.

Mr. Spatter, a retired colonel in the Army Reserve, was a single father for several years before meeting his future wife at a dance.

“He came over and asked me to dance,” said his wife of 27 years, Sara Spatter. “I couldn’t. I had hurt my leg and was on crutches.”

Nevertheless, the couple hit it off immediately, said Mrs. Spatter, a longtime real estate agent now with Achieve Realty in the North Hills.

“I just fell in love with him,” she said. “He was everything to me. Everyone knows he was the most gentle and sweetest and kindest person. We did everything together. We never wanted to leave each other. There was no better person. That’s what makes it so hard.

“He understood my business. If I needed any help, I would ask him. He would have the answer,” she said.

Mr. Spatter also is survived by three children, Susan Lyn Breitenbach, Susan Booth and Megan Finkelstein; a sister, Ellen Lowenberg; and seven grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday in Ralph Schugar Chapel Inc., 5509 Centre Ave., Shadyside. Visitation is one hour prior to service. Burial will be private.

Michael Hasch and John Oravecz are staff writers for Trib Total Media.

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