Lyle Grant Reeser slipped the surly bonds of Earth on Tuesday, October 21, 2008, at the age of 89. Lyle was born in Weldon, Illinois, on December 24, 1918, to Carl and Mabel Rittenhouse Reeser. He and his three brothers were raised on the family farm. Lyle attended the University of Illinois at Urbana. Just short of graduation, however, Lyle went on active duty in the US Army and trained in the field artillery before transferring to the US Army Air Force, where he served proudly as a military acceptance pilot, attaining the rank of Captain.
After the War, Lyle returned to the University of Illinois on the GI Bill, and completed his degree in agricultural engineering. In 1946, he began his 37 year career with Caterpillar Tractor Company. At Caterpillar, he met Louise Naffziger, and they were married in 1948 at the first of Lyle’s overseas postings, Honolulu, Hawaii. They soon moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where their two daughters, Rose Ann and Sara Jane (Sally) were born. The family subsequently moved to Havana, Cuba, then back to Peoria, Illinois, where two sons, Carlyle and Peter, were born. Later, the family moved to São Paulo, Brazil, where they spent 6 happy and enriching years. During Lyle’s long career with Caterpillar, he traveled the world, specializing in agricultural land development. Even after his retirement in 1983, Lyle continued to consult on projects in Africa and the Americas for Caterpillar, World Bank and the United Nations. Lyle was an ardent supporter of education and of alternative fuels, particularly ethanol. He believed in conservation and in promoting locally produced renewable fuels.
In 1992, Lyle and Louise moved to Blanco County, Texas, where they made many wonderful friends and were active in the Blanco United Methodist Church. Lyle enjoyed being part of the “Heavenly Hammerers” men’s group that helped build the church’s new fellowship hall and also belonged to the Masons and the Lions Club.
Lyle and Louise moved to Austin, Texas in 2004. At the time of his death, Lyle resided at the Summit at Westlake Hills, in Austin, Texas. Lyle’s family thanks the staff of the Summit health care center and Hospice Austin for the attentive care they gave to Lyle.
Surviving Lyle are his wife Louise; daughter Rose Ann Reeser and husband John Payne of Austin; daughter Sara Reeser Fitzpatrick and husband Tony and their children Ann and James of Webster Groves, MO; son Carlyle and wife Ardeth of Blanco and their sons Deon, Earl, Edward and Jorma; son Peter and his sons Micah, Stephen and Jesse and their mother Michele Armstrong, of Colorado; and a large extended family.
A memorial service for Lyle will be held on Friday, November 7 at 3:00pm, in the Garden Room of the Summit at Westlake Hills, Austin. On Memorial Day, 2009, the family will gather to bring Lyle home to Illinois. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Blanco United Methodist Church, Hospice Austin or a charity of your choice.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
— John Gillespie Magee, Jr