James Morris Lyles, Jr. passed away on March 4, 2017 at Palmetto Richland Heart Center in Columbia, SC. He was born June 10, 1919 in Winnsboro, SC to Mary Louise Gantt and James Morris Lyles, Sr. Brother, as he was called by everyone, was educated at Mount Zion Institute where he was the 1936 Class Valedictorian. He was a life member of Saint John's Episcopal Church where he was baptized, confirmed and led as Junior and Senior Warden for many years.
After graduating as a Gold Star Officer from The Citadel in 1940, Brother entered the US Army in September of 1941 as a 1st Lieutenant in the 276th Division to serve in Puerto Rico guarding a dry dock base from enemy sabotage. In 1944 he volunteered to transfer to Company C, an infantry battalion in the Alsace-Lorraine area of the European Theatre.
He led a platoon on a troop replacement mission across the Siegfried Line down the Saar and Rhine Rivers into Germany, serving in that role 3-4 months during the conflict and as the war came to a close. He won 2 campaign ribbons and the combat infantry badge. His thoughts throughout the years often centered on the 30 members of his Citadel graduating class of about 144 cadets who were killed in action in the war. After the War he helped establish and served as company commander of the 218th Infantry of the SC Army National Guard.
Mr. Lyles married Sally Pelham McCaw May 8, 1943 who passed away in 2007. He is survived by his children Susan Morris Lyles Randall, James Morris Lyles, III, Sally Pelham Lyles, Josephine McCaw Lyles, and John Todd McCaw Lyles. His grandchildren are Eliza Pelham Randall, Suzanna Randall, James Morris Lyles, IV, John Dunbar Lyles, Robert Harley Lyles, Pelham DuBose Spong, Shelby Lyles Spong, Aynsley Lyles Toombs, Nicole Lynn Pages, and Ryan James Lynn. Sisters Louisa Ravenel Searson and Susan Anne Reaves predeceased him in recent years and their surviving sister Lavinia Lyles Peltosalo lives in Winnsboro. There are seven great grandchildren, five nieces, and four nephews. He leaves his best friend Shelbia Trotter. Brother’s Weimereiner dog Sister was his faithful companion at the family home place.
Brother Lyles founded Winnsboro Builders Supply in 1949 and his second business, Winnsboro Concrete, in 1956. He was an organizing member of the Fairfield Historical Society and in recent years was awarded the Governor’s Order of the Crescent for his work in restoring the historic 1830 Fairfield County Museum. He was a past president of the Mount Zion Society, and was instrumental in founding and supporting Richard Winn Academy. For several years he has supported a scholarship to RWA for a deserving child. He served as president of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce and on the boards of directors of the Merchants and Planters’ Bank, First Union Bank, and of Southern Bank and Trust. He served several terms on the vestry and as Senior Warden of St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Mr. Lyles was a past president of the Central Council of the Boy Scouts of America, having organized and led the first Boy Scout troop in Fairfield County in 1940. In the 1970s he was awarded the Silver Beaver Award for his work with the South Carolina branch of the organization.
Brother was a past director of the Wateree Sailing Club, was a lifelong tennis player, sailor, and an avid backyard flower and vegetable gardener. He was a regular dancer at Friday night bluegrass and shag events at the old Blackstock school where he enjoyed his many friends.
Pope Funeral Home of Winnsboro is handling the arrangements and can be accessed at WWW.popefuneralhomesc.com. Visitation will take place in the parish hall of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Garden St. at 12 noon Saturday, March 11, 2017 with a service in the church at 2 PM and commitment service at the cemetery on Garden St. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to be sent to the Brother Lyles scholarship fund at Richard Winn Academy,
P. O. Box 390, Winnsboro, SC, 29180 or the Fairfield County Historical Society, P. O. Box 6, Winnsboro, SC, 29180.
Charitable donations may be made to:
Fairfield County Museum/Historical Society
PO Box 6, Winnsboro SC 29180
Richard Winn Academy
PO Box 390, Winnsboro SC 29180