A Good Friend Remembered: Lyle Gillis – January 2, 2009

2 Jan

It’s the second day of the New Year, 2009…

Alas, it looks like it’s starting off real hard…

A very good friend of mine lost his battle with ALS (Lou Gehrigs Disease) this morning.


Lyle Gillis was just a little older than me, in his early fifties. He was a Church Minister, and a good family man.

Like the rest of us, my son Joshua adored him.


He was much more than that. He was a friend, when you needed a friend, a confidante when you needed to vent, a guy who would listen to your pain, and distill it into a lesson that wasn’t quite so bitter sweet.

He did this, while the disease within him was tearing him apart. Slowly, he suffered in silence, never complaining, never calling attention to his suffering, never letting on that he was in agony. Instead, he lived like he preached. He lived with dignity, and faith in God, and demonstrated openly, lovingly, the adoration that he had for his family and friends.

Lyle and I didn’t always see “eye to eye.” He was a New Testament guy, and I am an Old Testament fossil. He strongly believed that love would conquer all, and I was too afraid to believe that. He bravely fought his fears and embraced his life, and we stood by, watching in awe as he faced the death that slowly approached him…

Lyle and I had many, many spirited conversations, about everything under the sun. I used to argue with him for hours, two men from different places, leading different lives, yet standing side by side, facing whatever would come. He was much more than a friend, to me. He was an inspiration.

Today, we visited his family, his wife Carolyn and her children, Charee and Cary. As we fought our own tears, we tried to help them cope with theirs. And, in spite of the suffering and grieving, they proved they were just like Lyle. They loved openly, kept a firm grip, and never once faltered.

I hope, when it’s time for my family to face such a difficult time (as all families must), that we fare as well…

Lyle didn’t just show us how to live, he showed us how to die.

In my life as a combatant, I’ve witnessed the passing of men more times than I care to remember. However, I’ve never witnessed a passing so profound in it’s life lessons, even now…

Lyle, you never stopped teaching… even now.

We’ll miss you as much as we loved you. Profoundly…



There will be a memorial for Lyle, at 2pm, on January 4th, 2009. It will be held at the Rodenberg Church of Christ, in Biloxi, MS. If you need directions, just email me.

The viewing will be held at Clary Glenn Funeral Home, in Defuniack Springs, Fl, on Monday January 5th, between 1 – 3pm. The Funeral will follow immediately after.

We will miss him terribly…

The Renaissance RoninOn another blog, that echoes my posts, (I actually have fans! ME? Can you imagine that?) this was posted about Lyle, and I thought I’d share it with you;



Tina Brannon Says:
January 3rd, 2009 at 10:37 pm I am Lyle’s second cousin the grandaughter of his Mother Bobbie’s sister.
Lyle has preached every member of my family’s funerals and I had assumed would be there for mine. We didn’t see each other taht often, but we didn’t have to for me to know he was a great man. He had more dignity than most people would ever be able to demonstrate in a lifetime. He held his head high even when it was hard for him to do that. His wife Carolyn and her daughters came along at such a perfect time for Lyle and his family, and they were definitely God sent. When it was hard to even look at them without crying Carolyn or Lyle would make you feel better almost immediately. Just in the short time of his illness I have learned what a miraculous family I come from, even though I new I was blessed from the start. If I can live my life half as well as Lyle lived his I will be blessed, just as we all were blessed by knowing him, and loving him. God definitely got an angel yesterday, and I am sure he is already hard at work.

G_d Bless you, buddy. There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by, that I haven’t thought about you. We miss you so much…

9 Responses to “A Good Friend Remembered: Lyle Gillis – January 2, 2009”

  1. wildkitty January 2, 2009 at 8:29 pm #

    My sympathies to you and yours suffering this loss, ronin.

  2. Howard Gillespie January 3, 2009 at 10:41 am #

    Dear Ronin,

    Thank you for your post. I don’t think any of us will ever know how far reaching and deep Lyle’s influence on people’s lives over the years really has been. It’s an influence that will continue on for some time. He was a true servant of Yeshua.
    When Lyle was in college he converted a young man by the name of Johnny Poitevint who was at Alabama Christian on a baseball Scholarship. Johnny was a freind of mine and my wife Debbie. Johnny in turn was instrumental in converting us. I had at that time no idea who Lyle Gillis was. Two years later my wife and I moved to Phenix City Alabama where he was preaching. It was then we made the connection. I guess in a since you can say Lyle was our grandfather in the faith. If it had not been for his influence on Johnny, Debbie and I may have never come to know the true God. Just this one story of his influence and love continues today with so many arms and legs its impossible to communicate them. Even though I just kept up with him by email he will truley be missed.
    Howard Gillespie

  3. Ashley Tillery Warren January 3, 2009 at 6:45 pm #

    I just happend across your website and saw your posting on Lyle. My uncle Lyle was amazing and I could not have described him any better. Continue to pray for Carolyn and my grandparents.

  4. George & Beverly DuBerry January 5, 2009 at 6:18 pm #

    We were sorry to hear about Lyle’s passing. We knew him in college and Carolyn and I (Beverly) were friends. We have lost touch over the years, but our sympathy goes out to the family. Lyle’s son, Carey, went to Faulkner with our son, Caleb. Carey, David and Caleb were also childhood friends in Phenix City, AL, along with Gabe Gillespie.

    Please let Carolyn know she and the family are in our prayers.

    George and Beverly DuBerry

  5. Cary Gillis January 9, 2009 at 1:40 am #

    Thank you for your appreciation of dad! He appreciated and loved you! He was impressed with you and enjoyed learning from your experiences. I don’t know how many stories he told me about “this special friend” – before we met. Thank you for helping in satisfying his love of intellectual interplay. He cherished your friendship 🙂

  6. renaissanceronin January 9, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    Hi all:

    Even now, after a week has passed, it’s hard to believe that he’s not still here. It’s sometimes like the air has been sucked out of the room. His leaving created that kind of vacuum.

    Lyle was a man with the most charitable heart I have ever seen. No matter the circumstances, he was always there to help. No matter what it took, he figured out a way to make things work. No matter how you felt, he went out of his way, to insure that you healed. All of this, as he was slowly slipping away from us.

    People talk about the accumulated riches of men, when they leave. It’s a common thread, I suppose. But. some of those people, who claim to “know” the targets of their intent, while up on those podiums, completely miss the boat…

    There’s a parable of a rich man talking to Christ, asking him how he could become a follower. Christ looked at him, and told him that first, he’d have to give up all his possessions. I’m sure the rich man couldn’t run the other direction fast enough to get away from this “nut!”

    If Lyle had that conversation with Christ, I’m sure it would have gone like this:

    Christ would look at Lyle, and say: “Lyle, first, you have to give away everything you own… okay?”

    I’m sure Lyle’s response would be something like: “Wow. Well, okay.”

    A few minutes later, Lyle would return to Christ:

    “Okay, done. Now what?”

    For those who claimed to know him, yet failed to actually “see” him, Lyle was anything but “poor.”

    The reason Lyle and his wife were seemingly “impoverished” to these “capitalistic” people, was because Lyle and Carolyn gave everything they had away, to anyone… anyone… who was in need. Those charitable gifts went on to improve the lives of everyone around them, and created thousands of “accounts,” exponentially.

    If these gifts were “fertilizer,” the Gillis’s could have conquered world hunger, all by themselves. They are more than “the salt of the earth,” they’re the stuff we all should have been made from, and aren’t.

    I loved Lyle, and I love his family, because of who they are, and the way he led them.

    The pain of his passing will stay with me a long time. But he’s everywhere around me, and I know, that he’s looking down, and probably laughing, while he sings…

    I still can’t find the words, to say the things tearing at my heart, over his death. So, I’ll just say this:

    Goodbye Lyle… we all love you so very much. We’ll see you soon…

  7. Dave in Larryville December 14, 2009 at 11:12 am #

    I’m new to this blog… and slowly working my way through the past posts.

    Today, almost a year since Rev. Gillis’ passing, I am deeply moved reading about this man, and what he meant to the folks who knew him.

    There are so many folks today that identify themselves as Christians, yet you look and hear the “fruit of their actions”, and you can’t find them anywhere in the New Testament. I am in no position to judge any man or woman, nor can I judge folks like the ones I describe above.

    I am not actually a Christian man, in the sense of the word that most are accustomed to.

    But reading this post, I have met one of Christ’s blessed disciples, and tasted just a little the fruit of his actions, and feel deeply touched and humbled by the example of The Christ that he must have lived in order to bare the kind of fruit I see here so richly described.

    Simply put, that kind of Love, Grace, and Dignity is what I aspire to… and I’m afraid to say I will have to live a good long time to be even in the neighborhood of hailing distance to men, or women, like Lyle.

    But, here is an example I can follow. Right here… and in finding the example here today, I am blessed.

    Thank you Lyle.

    … best to you and yours.


  8. Beverly April 19, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    After all this time reading these statements from you and others ….seems like yesterday he was here. I miss him terribly and want to call him. We had so much unfinished.
    I have joy for the fact that he truly knows now what he studied about all those years. He has seen the One….lives with the One…..that he only could dream about. I can’t wait to be with him……and Him.

    • renaissanceronin April 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

      Hi Beverly,

      I have a photograph of him hanging over the top of my computer desk, where I study and toil. It’s like he’s still here… looking down over us.

      I miss him too. He was much more than “just my friend”.



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