To: The W&L Community
From: President Ruscio
Date: Nov. 14, 2012
I am sorry to tell you that Joe Lyles, who coached and taught here for 50 years, died yesterday, Nov. 13. He had turned 83 just a couple of weeks earlier, on Oct. 28.
Joe enjoyed a long and colorful career throughout half a century at Washington and Lee. Not only did he coach soccer and baseball for almost 20 seasons, but he also taught every required course in our physical education curriculum. Alumni across a wide range of class years will remember Joe fondly and no doubt can recite more than one of his Lyleisms. He was one of the legends.
Joe grew up in St. Louis, Mo., and received his B.S. and M.S. from Springfield College. He played not one but two professional sports: baseball with the American League’s St. Louis Browns for five years, and basketball with the St. Louis Bombers for four years. In 1952, he toured the world as a member of the United States All-Stars, playing against the Harlem Globetrotters.
Joe arrived at W&L in 1959. He served as the head baseball coach from 1959 to 1978 and head soccer coach from 1959 to 1976. He also was the assistant varsity basketball coach from 1959 to 1969. He later directed club sports and headed the football chain crew. He retired in 2009 as an associate professor of physical education.
Beyond the campus, Joe served as the chair of the Penn and South Region, the conference that preceded the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). He also worked on National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) committees for baseball, including as national chair of the newly formed Division III for five years after its formation, as national chair of the Division III All-American selection committee and as a member of the Divisions I, II and III National Baseball Rules committee. He served on NCAA committees for Divisions II and III for soccer.
Kim and I send our deepest condolences to Joe’s relatives. We will have a complete obituary on the website soon, and we will post information about services there as well.