Thomas A. Lyle

Thomas A. Lyle '42
1981 Outstanding Alumnus

Mr. Lyle retired from the Naval Air Systems Command Headquarters, Washington, D. C. His tradition goes back a long way at the University, since a good portion of the campus was Lyle family property. In addition, he met his wife at ETSU, and his two daughters attended undergraduate and graduate school at the University. He was a member of the Alumni Association's board of directors (5/81).

Mr. Lyle died peacefully at his home in Vienna, Virginia, on January 27, 2010, at age 90.
He was born in Johnson City, TN, on December 22, 1919, to Bessie Thomas and Summers Lyle Jr. He attended Johnson City schools and graduated from East Tennessee State University (ETSU), which recognized him as Outstanding Alumni of the Year in 1981.

Tom taught industrial arts at Science Hill High School, and during World War II he taught airplane mechanics at Chanute Field in Chicago. After the war, his mechanical interests lead him to accept a position as an aircraft mechanic on the flight line at Cherry Point Marine Air Station.

He received the Meritorious Civilian Service Award from the U.S. Navy in 1953 when he led a group of men to extinguish a fire that threatened gasoline stores, many aircraft and personnel. He rose to become supervisor of the repair line, and from there was recruited by the Navy Bureau of Ships in Washington, DC, which later became the Naval Air Systems Command.

He was awarded the Sustained Superior Civilian Service Award in 1980. He assisted numerous young engineers in establishing their careers with the Navy, after having recruited them from college. At the time of his retirement in 1980, after 36 years of dedicated service, he was responsible for designing, fielding and maintaining all aviation ground support equipment in the U.S. Navy.

Although he worked tirelessly and with great pride at his profession as a mechanical engineer, Tom was a devoted husband, father and dedicated Presbyterian. He was fortunate enough to be instrumental in establishing two new Presbyterian churches, one in Havelock, NC, and one in Centreville, VA.

He was an elder at Vienna Presbyterian Church and provided his time and expertise over the years in many capacities, including everything from youth advisor, volunteer facility repairman, Sunday school teacher, to member of pastoral search and building committees.