LYLE, JOHN EMMETT (1910~2003) John Emmett Lyle, Jr., member of the Texas and United States House of Representatives and the Texas State Cemetery Committee, was born near Paradise in the village of Boyd, Wise County, Texas, on September 4, 1910. A third generation Texan, he graduated from Wichita Falls High School and attended the junior college there, before enrolling in The University of Texas at Austin. While in Austin, he worked as a night watchman in the basement of the Capitol. After graduating from UT, he attended the night school branch of the Houston Law School, and, in 1934, began a legal career that ultimately spanned 69 years. At the suggestion of Governor James Allred, he moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, and set up a private practice. However, in 1939, he was elected to the State Legislature representing a district comprised of Nueces, Duvall and Jim Wells Counties.
In the beginning of World War II, in 1942, he volunteered and took his basic training as a private in the Army. He was sent to Officer Training School where he graduated as a second Lieutenant. He was then assigned as a platoon leader to an Automatic Weapons Battalion in the 536th. That battalion was quickly sent to North Africa where he experienced combat as well as in Malta, Sicily and Italy. He was awarded a Purple Heart in the Anzio campaign and while serving as an infantry officer in the Arno River campaign, he was nominated and elected to the U. S. Congress for the fourteenth District of Texas. This District was made up of 19 counties. Congressman Lyle became the ranking member on the powerful Rules Committee. He served five terms and chose not to stand for reelection.
Congressman Lyle returned to South Texas and resumed the practice of law being active in the State Bar Association. He served on the State Board of Directors of the State Bar Association and as President of the Nueces County Bar Association. During that period as a lawyer and businessman, he represented many individuals, major energy companies, and served on corporate boards of both public and privately owned companies. He was a long time member of the Board of St. Luke's Hospital. During those years he served on Presidential Commissions under President Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan and most recently, in 1994, appointed by Presidential Clinton to the Federal Council on Aging.
In 1963, he moved to Houston, Texas, where he continued to practice law and remained a member of both the Texas Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He was an active trustee for the David Dewhurst Trust as well as a member of the Board of Directors of numerous Falcon Seaboard companies. He was an active member of St. Martin's Episcopal Church and served on the Vestry, as Senior Warden, and as a member of the Senior Council.
When asked what he might do differently if he could live his life over, Congressman Lyle often quoted George Bernard Shaw: "I would be the kind of man I could have been, but never was." When reminded of his amazing success, he would simply state, "I don't think of myself as a success. I was given some opportunities that others weren't. I am blessed."
John Emmett Lyle, Jr. passed away on November 11, 2003, and was buried in the Texas State Cemetery on November 19, 2003.
Information obtained from John E. Lyle, Jr., and obituary, Houston Chronicle, Friday, November 14, 2003.