A Humble Servant
A life-long career that provided a unique service to the community, a father of two successful children and a life devoted to serving others and God are words that describe the life of Lyle Hendrix. His humble attitude reflects a man who is confident and comfortable with self. His early life, with many challenges, reminds us of what is so familiar to many: determination and hard work can provide a better life.
Born in Gibson County, Tennessee in 1932, Lyle Hendrix was the last of six children born to parents who were farmers. Farming required that every hand available was given chores and being the last child provided few favors for Lyle. However, he recalls that one older sister became his second “mother” and he was somewhat spoiled by her.
By the time Lyle was twelve years old, all the older children had left home and farming became impossible for the family. They moved to Trenton, Tennessee where his father was able to support the family as a trader of cattle. According to Lyle, “My Dad wanted me to stay out of trouble and he insisted I get a job delivering newspapers for the entire town. I had to fold the papers and learn to throw them, with either hand, from the street to the front porches.” This skill helped him become a member of the high school basketball team because he could shoot with both hands! While in high school, Lyle also started working in the meat department of the local grocery store on Saturdays. This experience would have a lasting impact on his life.
During Lyle’s senior year of high school, he was elected President of the Student Council. Soon after graduation in 1951, enrollment in business school proved impossible because of the hardships and complications it imposed. He left school, joined the Naval Reserve, and was soon called to active duty because of the Korean War. Because of his experience in working as a meat cutter, he was stationed at Bainbridge, Maryland as a Commissary Man-a fancy name for “cook”, according to Lyle. He was released from active duty in 1954 and promptly enrolled in an eight week course offered by National Meat cutters in Toledo, Ohio.
Following school, Lyle moved to Memphis and became employed as an apprentice in the meat department of a small grocery store. The titles of various positions in the meat cutting industry are controlled by the Meat cutters Union; apprentice being the beginning position.
Soon after moving to Memphis, Lyle began to attend gatherings of single young people from the local Churches of Christ. It was at these meetings that he became acquainted with a young lady name Oconee Henry. Their first date was to a movie at the Orpheum Theatre. After dating for six months, they married on February 26, 1956. Together they would have two children, a son and daughter. There are now four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Lyle remains very close to his family.
Following marriage, Lyle realized that he would need to find better work. He moved to the meat department of Kroger and remained there, at various locations, for eleven years. He then worked for the Fred Montesi Stores for seventeen years, followed by sixteen years at the Piggly Wiggly Stores. He would become Manager of the Meat Department at all of these.
In 2000, Lyle retired from meat cutting and took a part time position with White Station Church of Christ as Facilities Manager, caring for the building and grounds. The Church at White Station became an integral part of the Hendrix family when they purchased a house in the White Station area in 1958, and the family began worship there. According to Lyle, “although we enjoyed family camping, our social life revolved around church activities. We formed many great friendships that last until this day”. His wife, Oconee, taught a children’s Bible class for over forty years. Lyle had the daunting task of being an Elder of the Church for thirty-five years. Both Oconee and Lyle served on the Missions Committee and in that role, visited many missionaries in foreign countries and throughout the United States.
In 2018, Lyle’s wife passed away after a long battle with an auto-immune disease, scleroderma. During her last three years of life, Lyle stopped all work to care for her. After her death, Lyle sold the house they had lived in for sixty years and moved to Kirby Pines in February, 2019. Lyle says, “I chose to move to Kirby Pines because of the LifeCare concept and so that my children would not have to worry about my safety and care”. Lyle also offers this, “I had friends who already lived at Kirby and they have helped greatly with my transition. I have made many new friends since moving here and treasure them very much. I have enjoyed living here!
Lyle is a member of the Garden Club, and before COVID, was a part of the group that popped popcorn on Saturdays and distributed it to the Health Areas. Presently, Lyle serves as a greeter and facilitator for the 8:00 am Church of Christ services on Sunday morning.
It has been said, “a deed is not a good deed unless it is done anonymously”. Lyle, in his own words says, “I want to be the person behind the scenes, helping someone else out”. Lyle Hendrix, a true humble servant.
Happy Father’s Day to Lyle and all Dads at Kirby Pines!
Wrtten by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines