Lyle Leroy Young, 85, of Little River, Kan., passed away with family by his side on Dec. 30, 2021, at Salina Regional Health Center after a brief illness.
He was born July 22, 1936, at Hoffman Memorial Hospital in Little River to Earl Leroy and Verla Mae (Thomas) Young. He was a fourth-generation resident of Little River (his family arrived here in 1877), and grew up with his sister, Loretta, and brother, Leland.
He attended school in Little River and graduated from Little River High School in 1954, having participated in football, basketball, track, FFA and chorus. He worked alongside his father in the family-owned business – Little River Roofing Co. – from a young age until 1966. Even though he left the roofing business to start businesses of his own, he could often be found throughout his life on his own roof or those of buildings he owned. Even when he was 80 years old and we told him to stay off the roof, he still went up there, and one day got electrocuted when an insulator broke. Though it knocked him off the roof he didn’t even break a bone.
We thought he was Super Man.
In winter, when roofing was paused, Lyle worked many different jobs such as a welder’s helper in Texas, for a manufacturing company in California, on an oil field pulling unit and on a bridge building crew.
He proudly served his country and was an Airman First Class in the Air National Guard/Air Force Reserve from 1958 to 1964. He completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio as a Fire Protection Specialist and crew chief, learning all about aircraft crash and rescue.
In early 1966, he saw an ad in the newspaper for the Roper Corporation which sold water conditioning units. He answered the ad, started working as a salesman on Feb. 1, 1966, and in his first 21 days sold 21 units, earning him first place in the Roper National Contest that month. By March, he was appointed sales manager of the Hutchinson office.
As his dad often said, “Lyle could sell ice to an Eskimo.”
Through his work, Lyle met a young lady named Sandy Kay Rose when he sold her family a water conditioning unit. He married her Oct. 28, 1966, in Oklahoma. Not long after, Lyle opened his own sales office for Roper in Kansas City and the couple moved there for a year. They returned to Little River in 1968 where they raised two children: Kelley Ann and Jason Carlyle.
Lyle had many plans for their home and ultimately doubled the size of the house by adding three rooms. He was closely involved in the renovation, laying brick floor and drawing plans for a spa room.
While working for Roper, Lyle was awarded the Top Salesman in the Nation Trophy in the 1967 Roper National Sales Contest and another year was second place in the nation. To receive his awards, he traveled one year to New Orleans and another to California. A 1967 article in the Roper Reporter said, “He has been a consistent record breaker.”
He also continued to try his hand at other businesses, including a Fairfax vacuum cleaner franchise, Smart Set Salon in Great Bend, and The Pub in Hutchinson, which was a bar that catered to college students and served flavored beer. Lyle and his dad also owned a liquor store in Little River for a time.
In 1976, Lyle and his brother, Leland, formed North American Drilling & Exploration (NADE) along with two other partners. His nephew, Don Teeters, also worked for the company. NADE began in Wichita and later moved to Great Bend. At the height of the company’s success, they drilled three oil and gas wells each month. The company flourished for decades and though Lyle eventually retired from active drilling, the company remains in Great Bend.
In 1993, Lyle partnered with his son, Jason, to open Youngs Auto Sales in Great Bend and he remained an active part of the business up until his death. The two were often seen together at auctions all over the state, buying cars for the lot. They also operated Little River Real Estate & Investment with various rental properties.
Lyle had many interests and hobbies. He earned his private pilot’s license in the mid-1980s and at times owned a Cessna 172 Skyhawk, a Teratorn ultralight aircraft and a 1946 ErCoupe, which remains hangered at the Great Bend Airport.
He was an avid collector of classic cars, with his favorites being a 1932 Dodge Coupe, a 1931 Model-A rumble seat coupe and a 1936 Ford Deluxe sedan. He was also a motorcycle enthusiast and rider, and loved his 2000 Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic.
Lyle was an amazing gardener and grew a huge garden every year for nearly 50 years. The past two years, he decided to grow just tomatoes and peppers, and had more than two dozen plants filling up his backyard and growing like crazy. He greatly enjoyed hunting and fishing, and did both all over the country throughout his life, continuing to fish at rivers and ponds in Kansas during 2021.
He also loved to travel and went to Mexico several times, as well as Yugoslavia, Venice, Italy, and London, England. He traveled all over the United States and once took his family to Canada in a 1957 Dodge bus converted into a camper. They travelled more than 5,000 miles in less than two weeks. Many weekends found Lyle and his family boating at Wilson Lake in Kansas, Table Rock Lake and Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, and Beaver Lake and Lake Ouachita in Arkansas.
Lyle had a beautiful singing voice and loved Elvis, and he especially enjoyed a fine cigar. He was a history buff and knew everything going on in politics. He was a big fan of Donald Trump and Lyle’s TV was most often turned to Real America’s Voice News, unless he was watching a Western movie with his wife, Sandy.
His life was defined by his deep Christian faith. Lyle loved the Lord and the Bible, and was a member of Little River Congregational Church. On days he couldn’t get out of the house to get to church, he watched Adrian Rogers’ TV sermons. He was also a member of the National Rifle Association and donated generously to many charities.
Lyle lived life to the absolute fullest. He had a curious mind and keen intellect, and dearly loved his family. He was a self-motivator, larger than life and a force of nature. And he always had cool hair.
A couple of his favorite sayings he’d heard during his life were:
“When things go wrong as they sometimes will, and the road you’re traveling seems all up hill, don’t quit.”
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, for they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
And, more recently,
“Let’s go Brandon.”
Survivors include: wife of 55 years, Sandy, of the home; son and daughter-in-law, Jason and Steph Young, Little River; brother, Leland, Little River; grandchildren: Christopher Reeves, Omaha, Neb., Corey and wife Caitlin Young, Buhler, and Brady Obley, Little River; great-grandchildren: Morgan and Bailey Reeves, Omaha, Neb., and Liam and Huxley Young, Buhler; nephew, Don and wife Dalene Teeters, Little River; nieces, Val and husband Kent Loesch, of Raymond, Vicki and husband Brian Ward, Haysville, Sherri and husband Ben Williams, Bennett, Colo., and Tammi Adel, Derby; many great-nieces and great-nephews; many, many friends; and his loving four-legged companion, Lucky, and feathered friends, Indy and Pigeon (who he rescued).
He was preceded in death by his mother and father; daughter, Kelley Reeves; sister, Loretta Teeters; sister-in-law, Cathy Young; and infant brother, Carl James Young.
Services will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Little River Congregational Church in care of Birzer Funeral Home, 214 West Ave. South, Lyons, KS 67554.