Biographical Sketch On The Life Of Cleon Lyles
Cleon Lyles was born in Rector, Arkansas July 1, 1914. He was
baptized by J. Harvey Dykes in 1930. He
married Neva Maxie Coats of Coal Hill, Arkansas in 1933. To their
union was born two daughters, Janis Ann and Kerrie Sue. He received
his training at Northeastern State College in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
began preaching in Rector in 1931. He preached for different
congregations of the Lord's Church through the years. He served the
Central church in Muscogee, Oklahoma from 1937 to 1941. While there
he had a daily radio program. Later he served the Lamar Avenue church
in Paris, Texas from 1941 to 1945 where he also had a daily radio
program. He moved to the Downtown church (Sixth & Izard, now
Windsong) in Little Rock, Arkansas in
1945. While in the Little Rock area he had a weekly fifteen minute
radio broadcast on KARK Sunday mornings, and a thirty minute program
on the ABC affiliate KATV in Little Rock every Sunday. Through the
years he also served as a staff writer for the 20th Century
Christian. He was perhaps best known among churches by the book he
wrote on leadership, Bigger Men For Better Churches in 1962.
He also preached in gospel meetings in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and
Michigan. He finished his career in the kingdom while preaching for the
Morrilton church in Morrilton, Arkansas.
Cleon Lyles passed from this life on September 3, 1989. The funeral
was held at the church in Morrilton, and the burial took place at
Coal Hill, the home of his wife's family, in the Srygley Family
Obituary In Arkansas
(The following is from the
September 1989 issue of the Arkansas Christian Herald.)
Arkansas gospel preacher,
evangelist, lecturer, author and after dinner speaker, Cleon Lyles
of Morrilton, died about 7:30 Sunday evening, September 3rd, after a
valiant struggle with cancer. He is survived by his beloved wife,
Maxie Coats Lyles, by two daughters, Janis Ann Perrin of Lubbock,
Texas and Kerri Sue Goldsmith of Laguna Beach, California.
Other survivors include a
brother, Robert Lyles, a gospel preacher, of Jonesboro, a sister,
Ruby Lyles McNickle of Okmulgee, Oklahoma, three grandchildren and
Cleon obeyed the gospel and
was baptized by the late J. Harvey Dykes in
1930. He began preaching at Rector in 1931. He was persuaded to come
to Fort Smith by Will Slater and
James E. Laird and work at the
children's home dairy, attend school and learn Bible preaching. He
preached by Sunday appointment and gospel meetings primarily in west
central Arkansas. This included Coal Hill where the Coats family
lived and whose daughter was Neva Maxie Coats.
Brother Lyles entered
Harding, in Morrilton, in the fall of 1933. He has often said of
that experience, "All I remember is that I entered college, I was in
love, and Maxie and I married." At the end of the fall quarter, he
and Maxie moved to Talequah, Oklahoma where he preached for the
church and they attended Northeastern State College.
In 1937 they moved to
Muskogee, Oklahoma where he preached for the Central church. In 1941
they moved to Paris, Texas where he preached for the Lamar Avenue
church. In 1945 they moved to Little Rock to work with the Fourth
and State Streets church, which is now Sixth and Izard. He continued
with them for twenty-three years. He
conducted a live fifteen minute radio program over KARK early Sunday
mornings all those years. He developed a thirty minute television
program on KATV at 12:30 on Sundays.
Brother Lyles was a popular
evangelist and held many gospel meetings all over the continental
United States. At the end of his tenure at Sixth and Izard he did
full time evangelistic work for a few years. He was asked to come to
Morrilton and preach for the Downtown church. He continued that
ministry until he retired from full time preaching at the end of
1978. He served many years as a member of the board of directors of
Southern Christian Home. He resigned that responsibility in December
of 1978 when his son-in-law, Jerry Perrin was named superintendent
of the Home.
Cleon was co-founder and
co-editor of the PULASKI COUNTY CHRISTIAN (now ARKANSAS -
CHRISTIAN HERALD). He resigned from that work when he entered
evangelistic service. In the late spring of 1979 he began preaching
on Sundays for the Northside church (which meets at Southern
Christian Home) in Morrilton. His love and concern for the spiritual
nurture and growth of the boys and girls at the Home knew no bounds.
He loved to bring the gospel to their troubled hearts. He often
encouraged them by saying that he intended to go to heaven and he
wanted them to go there, too.
Brother Lyles was the author
of seven books: "Bigger Men For Better Churches," "God Knew He
Needed Her," "Make Way For Happiness," "Rich Without Money," "Wish
I'd Said That," and "Baseball, Baptism, and Apple Pie."
The last pulpit sermon
brother Lyles preached was on Sunday, August 27 at the Northside
church. He was making preparation to go on Sunday morning, September
3rd, when his strength failed and the ambulance rushed him to the
hospital where he passed on that evening.
Funeral services were held at
the Downtown church in Morrilton on Tuesday afternoon by John
Gipson, Carroll Trent, Weldon Hatcher, Tom Chapin and singers from
Sixth and Izard. Graveside service was conducted by Luther Hodge at
Srygley Cemetery at Coal Hill.
On August 31, officials at
Lubbock Christian University issued a Doctor-of-Laws degree for
Cleon Lyles. President Steven Lemley planned to make the award in
person at a dinner which the Board of Directors of Southern
Christian Home scheduled to honor brother Lyles. The event was
scheduled for September 29 in Morrilton. Dr. Lemley said that the
diploma will be presented to Mrs. Lyles in Lubbock at a later date.
-World Evangelist, January,
Remembrances Of Cleon
Cleon Lyles has gone to his
reward, but the memories linger. Who can forget the deep, sometimes
booming voice, with its rich, southern accent? For twenty-three
years he preached for the Sixth and Izard Church of Christ in Little
Rock. Arkansas. Through his work in the pulpit, over radio and
television, his name became a household word. He was in demand
throughout the brotherhood for gospel meetings, lectureships and
Cleon knew how to hold an
audience without a rope. I told him one time that he reminded me of
a bird-dog. He gave me a look that demanded an explanation, so I
told him that in my view a good birddog had an instinct for hunting
and that I believed he was born with an instinct for preaching. That
was not meant to discount all of the study and work he engaged in to
make full-proof of his ministry, but to recognize a God-given
ability. Cleon was a natural. Cleon possessed a number of admirable
attributes. He was a man of wisdom and common sense, a man who
believed in the work ethic, a man of wit and humor, a man who loved
people, and one who loved proclaiming the word of God.
Part Indian, his early school
friends called him "Chief." It was a name which stuck and became a
term of endearment. The "Chief" is no longer with us, but his
influence will be felt far into the future.
Sixth and hard
Church of Christ
Little Rock, AR 72203
Evangelist, January, 1990, p.5
For Location & Directions To Srygley Family Cemetery Click Here
Neva Maxie Lyles,
Wife Of Cleon, Buried In The Same Cemetery, But Next To Her Parents