Harold L. Lyles was called home to heaven on Sunday, September 22, 2019 with his beloved wife of 48 years, Nancy, by his side. He was 90 years young and lived a truly remarkable life. Harold was a devoted husband, loving father, and doting grandfather. He loved the Lord, his family, and his community. He was a leader in business, served various organizations, but he always put his family first.
Harold had endless energy and an unquenchable thirst for life. He put in long hours throughout his careers but he prized balance – still coming home with the energy to take the kids fishing in the backyard, waterskiing on the lake, or swimming in the pool.
Born on February 10, 1929 to the late Agnes and Clifford Lyles, he was the oldest son of nine children. Mr. Lyles lived in Sumter, SC and was educated in the Sumter schools. Harold learned at an early age the importance of family and what it meant to be a leader and a mentor. He impacted the lives of countless individuals and his community as a whole.
Harold faithfully served his Lord and Savior. He was a lifelong member of Grace Baptist Church where he served as a youth Sunday school teacher, an usher, and participated in a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Recently, he and Nancy joined Cross Church in Cumming, GA where he became an active member of life groups, enjoyed participating in their Love Because community outreach services, and was proudly re-baptized at age 89.
A veteran of the second World War, Harold joined the United States Army at age 17 and served as a sergeant in the 457th Parachute Battalion, during the occupation of Japan. He gained a love for flying in the Army and brought that passion back to South Carolina where he was instrumental in pioneering skydiving as a sport, performing more than 3,000 jumps.
Harold was known by his friends as an avid health and fitness promoter. He owned the Lifestyle Fitness Center in Sumter. His athletic endeavors included body building, boxing, 100-mile bike rides, waterskiing, boat racing, and running marathons. He was also a ferocious reader, active follower of developments in science and technology, a photographer, and a painter.
In his early years, he opened Spee-Bo’s Drive-In Restaurant, a favorite gathering place for young people. He sold the restaurant to Mrs. Cole, who opened her landmark restaurant Cole’s at the same location. Harold then turned his attention to the insurance business where his career in that industry spanned fifty years. He founded the Lyles Insurance Agency and retired from Aflac with thirty-five years as a regional manager. He was a close and trusted advisor to Aflac’s founder who told Harold he helped save the company three different times.
Harold was active in the Sumter community, where he chaired the effort to restart the Iris Festival as a member of the Jaycees and served as treasurer for the United Way. He served several terms as chairman of the South Carolina Blood Services division of the American Red Cross and served as chairman of the Sumter County Blood Mobile for thirteen years. He was presented the Clara Barton Award, the highest honor the American Red Cross bestows upon its volunteers.
Some of his proudest work was with the founding of Sumter Adopts Vietnamese Evacuees (SAVE), an organization that helped resettle Vietnamese evacuees at the conclusion of the Vietnam War in the Sumter area. Harold gained a brother through the program, as his mother legally adopted Cong Phan Lyles, a former lieutenant in the South Vietnamese Army who fought alongside U.S. forces.
In 1980, Harold chaired Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign in Sumter County and was elected chairman of the Sumter County Republican Party in 1984, where he served for three terms. Both he and Nancy were Electoral College electors during the 1992 presidential election, a rarity in American politics. Over Harold’s life, he met six U.S. Presidents.
On his 90th birthday, S.C. Governor Henry McMaster conferred the Order of the Silver Crescent on Harold in recognition of his dedication, commitment and leadership for benefiting South Carolina and her citizens.
Harold is survived by his wife, Nancy McIntosh Lyles; his three children: Lisa L. Glasscock (Marion), Julie Lyles Pate (Player), and Steven H. Lyles (Jennifer); his seven grandchildren: Hannah Leverette, Courtney Leverette, Chris Leverette, Emma Pate, Lily Pate, Nolan Sadlock, and Cameron Sadlock. He is survived by his siblings: Sybil Gaskin (Buck), Kenneth Lyles (Barbara), Dan Lyles (Dotty), Carol Bradham (Raymond), Jerry Lyles (Gloria), Bill Lyles (Shirley), and Jean Redman. He is preceded in death by his parents, sister Doris Fernander, and brother Cong P. Lyles.
Visitation will held on Friday, September 27 at Bullock Funeral Home from 6:00-8:00 PM.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, September 28 at Grace Baptist Church at 2:00 PM and his burial will follow the funeral at Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be Bobby Richardson, Eddie McIntosh, Bobby Young, Jack Horton, Jimmy McLeod, Jeff Young, Vernon Pate, and Charlie Lindenberger. Honorary pallbearers will be Ken Young, Jimmy Rogers, Jody Ortmann, and John Jones III.
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The family has chosen Bullock Funeral Home for the arrangements.
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