There is a well-known phrase “anyone can be a Father, but it takes
someone special to be a Dad.” In everything Dad did, family was first
and foremost. He loved to teach people new things, and teaching his
kids and grandkids was a passion, be it how to work with horses, work
cows, run a shovel, lift weights, skiing technique, how to throw your
weight around a snowmobile riding in fresh powder, explore
Yellowstone, you name it and he almost always seemed to know a lot
about it and loved to share. He seemed larger than life in his
knowledge and know-how and experience base. He definitely
believed in the principal, and effectively taught, if you’re going to do
something do it well and to the best of your ability.
He also loved to not only have a good time, but to host a good time.
Family holidays, family get-togethers, or social gatherings of any kind,
you could always bet on, and count on, Lyle (and wife Kathy) to go too
far. Meaning not one cooler of sodas, but six coolers of every type of
soda, tea and lemonade, and more coolers with all various brands of
beer anyone might want. Not just a few burgers and a bag of chips.
Many bags of chips, and crackers, and tortilla chips and dips, and
hamburgers and hot dogs and sausages and chicken and jellos and
multiple types of potato, macaroni, whip cream-based salads and
beans and watermelons and fruits and vegetables, and, and, and.
Enough for an army, and for more than one day. The list isn’t even
started yet with deserts and treats and everything else. But the most
important, and really only important fact is that everyone had a great
time with Lyle and Kathy. They may not know why consciously, but
Dad did. And it was important to him, and important to be ‘that guy’.
The guy both in the scene, but also behind the scene making sure
plans were ‘to the nines’, that there was more than enough and no one
would be in want, or ever have to go short or without. He was happy
in the background a lot of the time while he did the cooking and sipped
a cold beer with his sweat band on having a good time over the hot
BBQ grill cooking things to order and to everyone’s specs and
satisfaction, while most often jamming to good music. He loved to be
the guy working hard to make sure everyone had not just a good time,
but a great time.
He had a unique, rich, and devilish sense of humor. It’s ‘in the genes’
as his father and uncles were that way as well. And we must admit a
fair amount passed on to us. He loved to “tease” the people he liked
and loved the most, however there was really no safe hiding space.
You were as likely as not to be on the receiving end of his teasing the
first time you met him. He loved the alias ‘Albert Fozzbinder’, often
introducing himself as such just to see people’s reactions. Most the
time they were slightly caught off guard with such an unusual name,
and as they began to reply back to him “Hello Albert Fozzbin…”, Dad’s
body language and ear to ear beaming grin readily gave up the gig,
and both would chuckle into a warm and humorous handshake or
exchange that set the tone just how dad liked. Nice and light and here
to have a good time. Anybody who remembers this about Lyle will
also recall the booming belly laugh he would make that usually
erupted sometime through the exchange. Additionally, he also loved
to trade barbs, receiving the good fun as good as he gave.
Lyle was a man, a father, a husband who loved unconditionally. It was
always wonderful to know that and to feel that. He never judged on
any superficial characteristics. Character was what he valued. And if
we ever made a mistake or misdeed, the action was always separate
from the person. He may chide the misdeed or the mistake, but he
never chided the individual. And each day ended forgiven and
A son-in-law made the following observation of Lyle he thought was
quite revealing. That he was a very understanding and
compassionate person. And that he truly valued all life and did
everything possible to preserve and protect it, be it a human or new
born animal. He knew this because he had seen Lyle in action with
the animals he so dearly loved. He knew this because it takes a truly
understanding and compassionate person to allow him to take the
hand of his only daughter and his first-born grandson, who were
previously never more than a few minutes away from him, and
transplant them 1,500 miles away.
Lyle really enjoyed kids. He loved, and was good at, getting kids
wound up laughing and giggling and yelling out with glee as he would
startle them with a ‘I’m gonna getcha’ stance with his hands raised and
fingers wiggling and a booming devilish laugh to match, and then give
chase peeking their laughter mixed with adrenaline rushes and thrills.
They were so excited, they could hardly move, and then were so
tickled with themselves when they somehow just barely got away. It
was two kids playing…one small one and one really big one and
somehow, they behaved more as peers than adult and child. Another
‘Lyle classic’ was picking up a child and holding them like a rock
guitar, strumming their belly making them laugh, while he stayed in
character as a rock singer strutting and peacocking and crooning from
the ‘living room stage’ to the imaginary audience. Another was kids
hopping on his back while he played rodeo bronco on his hands and
knees as he ‘bucked and whirled around’. Startling the dickens out of
a child when Lyle, with precise and sudden timing, would move a leg
suddenly with a mock kick out and belt out like a startled angry cow
with a loud ‘moo’ as the child touched his hip with a potato masher
‘branding iron’. And when the inevitable ‘buck-off’ occurred, he would
ease the child down and pretend to shove them around with his head
like a wild bull and ‘stomp them’ with tickles. And the stories could go
on and on.
The grandkids all agree that no one could be as lucky to have a
Grandpa like Lyle. From his endless love for his family, to the
countless life lessons he was able to pass on to those around him. He
truly left a mark on them that will never be forgotten. He always took
care of others and put them first no matter how it would affect him and
gave unwavering love for the people he cared about. One of the many
simple things he loved and was always ready to do, was to gather
around a little campfire with a couple of hot dogs and sit down and
chat a while. Grandpa stayed strong through the hurdle’s life threw at
him and he gave us the gift to live and carry on the legacy of a place
we get to call home. Thank You Grandpa.
Lyle/Dad/Grandpa was an incredible person. He had strong character
and strong values. He was tough and tender, he loved life and lived it
hard. To list everything he did, all the experiences he had, all the
places he had been and things he had done, no one would actually
believe it. About halfway in, it would begin to sound as though tall
tales were being told. But we know better. Because where he led, we
followed (or were sometimes lovingly pushed). And thank God for it,
our lives have been made so rich from the example he set and the trail
he blazed. And besides the stories, he was proud of the physical
'nicks' he had here, and the scars he had there, to serve as a road
map of 'mementos' to help tell the story of a life fully lived.
He practiced what he preached...honesty, integrity, keep your word
and say what you mean and do what you say. He was, what might
nowadays, be considered 'old school'. If, and when, he gave his word,
he kept it...period. As an example, his parents entrusted him to honor
their Last Will and Testament. And from the time of their passing in
1988 until his passing on Easter Sunday 2019, he held like an
absolute rock abiding by their wishes. He honored his word and never
faded even for a minute...even though he suffered greatly personally
for it at the hands of some. We have yet to meet his peer...not even
He loved God and the world He created. He loved his family, his kids,
and his grandkids. He could not have been prouder of them, or more
thankful for them. He loved all life, especially new life from wildlife to
puppies to calves and baby pigs and horses, and on and on he loved
them all. He especially loved the new life of human babies and young
He loved a good story. He was never in a hurry, and hoped you
weren't either (unless he didn't like you). He always had more to visit
and share, and more he wanted to hear...eagerly awaiting you to
respond in kind. To him, there was always more time to visit.
He loved America, and the Flag, and all the brave Military people and
Veterans throughout American history...those who created the country
originally, and all those who have defended Her from the past through
to the present. He loved freedom and independence and every single
founding aspect that has made America the best country in the world.
And he certainly knew our freedom wasn't, and isn't, free.
He loved life, and he taught us well. We are so thankful God blessed
us with him. We will miss him more than words can say, but are
extremely thankful for all the valuable teachings, experiences, and
memories he gave us. Enough for several lifetimes.
If you're reading this, these are some of the things he might say...work
hard, but play hard, love and cherish your family and your friends, be
serious but never too serious, trust in God, he'll meet you in the middle
(even though it might not always be clear). And most of all...live life!
THANK YOU, DAD, WE LOVE YOU!
Saddle up Cowboy! This was truly your life; loving the times you rode
Fox, or Chief, or Prince, and countless others, and driving the sleigh to
view the elk with Deck and Doll, Captain and King, and countless
others. You were a true cowboy. This anyone could tell. Your word
was your bond. Not working for money, but working to make things
better, and the love of the land, and the ranch and the mountains.
Your cowboy boots walked many miles, now your life with us here in
Long Valley is over. God has plans for you up in Heaven. He needs
help training some new horses and needs a nutritionist's expertise for
his cows on the 'back 80.' Your mom and dad, and all the generations
you have so missed are waiting for you. It’s going to be a family
reunion. Your dad’s anxious to have you by his side again, to be able
to ride side by side again in Heaven...you know he's waiting.