The Pittsburgh Foundation

Remembering Jim Roddey

Jim Roddey, a member of The Pittsburgh Foundation Board for 13 years and Edie Shapira, then-Board Chair, at the welcome reception for CEO Lisa Schroeder in the Manchester Craftsman’s Guild’s Community Center, May 22, 2019.

As the news of Jim Roddey’s death, at age 91, settles across his beloved Pittsburgh and in seats of government from Harrisburg to Washington, D.C., admiring tributes are appearing everywhere.  

The Pittsburgh Foundation honors Jim for his leadership roles in business, politics and government and especially for his tenure on the Board of Directors. The contributions he made in each were extraordinary and led to significant quality-of-life improvement for residents across the region.   

What made Jim such a remarkable leader was the way he shared his power and influence, working every day to find common ground by engaging people in the work of being more community-minded and therefore more united.   

In matters of philanthropy and policymaking, Jim’s greatest skill was illuminating bi-partisan solutions on matters of importance, often leading a group to common understanding with a perfect-for-the-moment joke or story. While he wasn’t naïve about the degree of difficulty in reaching unity on many issues, he always assumed goodwill and good faith would get us there.   

He was a proactive and caring leader who understood that community is a verb, not a noun.      

In his Board service, Jim frequently cited the core value he embraced as a Marine Corps officer, “Semper Fidelis” – always faithful. That is the legacy he leaves to us at the Foundation and to the Pittsburgh region he loved.  

Lisa Schroeder

– Lisa Schroeder is president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation

The following are remembrances and tributes to Jim from two Pittsburgh Foundation Board leaders who knew him well: 


Edith Shapira, M.D., former Board Chair: 

It was an honor and a delight to know Jim and to serve with him on the Board.  He was a natural leader – brilliant, wise and good to the core. While he was a powerful Republican and I am a lifelong Democrat, party differences rarely came to mind in our discussion of the Foundation’s direction or our work addressing pressing needs in the region. Jim beautifully mastered the art of using humor to engage and entertain, without lessening the gravitas of a conversation.  He was a trusted partner, a deeply admired role model and a friend to so many of us.  The Foundation is just one of many organizations that benefitted from his leadership.  I will remember Jim with love, admiration and profound gratitude.  

Edward J. Donnelly, M.D., former Program Committee Chair: 

 "I met Jim Roddey when our board terms at the Foundation overlapped. With his extensive experience in business, politics and public service, Jim would offer his unique perspectives on any grant or policy issue in the most collegial and bipartisan manner, and always with a bit of humor. In the boardroom, his political affiliations did not matter. Jim was always laser-focused on the Foundation’s mission of addressing critical needs in the Pittsburgh region.  

After our board terms ended, I was fortunate to get to know Jim on a more personal basis. His stories and experiences were endless – as was his concern for the well-being of our region and nation. He never stopped advocating for a more respectful and meaningful public discourse. Jim’s was a life extraordinarily well-lived – for his family, community and country. All of us in Pittsburgh have lost a wonderful friend, public servant and community steward.  

My deepest sympathy and condolences to Jim’s wife, Elin, and family on his passing." 

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