Robert Lyday

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Robert L. "Jack" Lyday

Bryson City - On August 25, 1916, Robert Lenore "Jack" Lyday was born along Lyday's Creek between Pisgah Forest and Penrose in Transylvania County. Born the 7th of 9 children, his generation of Lydays was the 5th generation to live on the family farm first settled in the late 1700s by immigrants. At the age of 96, after a long and fruitful life, Jack was called to his heavenly home on April 15, 2013.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Leon Faidherbee Lyday and Fanny Belle Wilson; his beloved wife of 65 years Dorothy Barton Lyday, and all of his 5 brothers and 3 sisters. He is survived by three children - Susan Lyday of Flat Rock, Sylvia Lyday-Goforth and her husband Bill of Cullowhee, and Russell Lyday and his wife Vicky of Morganton; one step-granddaughter, Audrey Walkingstick and two grandsons, Stephen (Jennifer) and Robert Lyday.

Jack was gifted as a "people" person as was evidenced by his life. While his career was centered around agriculture, his real crop was people. Even in his last year spent at Mountain View Manor Nursing Home, he continued to share stories and visit with many new friends and re-acquaintances. He often walked down the hall, stuck out a hand and said, "Hi, I 'm Jack Lyday", and thus began a conversation.

Even though his family were farmers, education was a requirement. Both of Jack's parents and all of his siblings received a college education. Jack completed NC State College during the Great Depression, milking cows twice a day at the campus dairy to help pay tuition. After college, his first job was teaching vocational agriculture at Hendersonville High School, cut short by selection in the first draft round of 1941.

Jack served his country honorably with seven years in the US Armed Forces, obtaining the rank of Captain. During World War II, he was Civilian Personnel Officer at the port of Khorramshahr, and Executive Officer in Tehran, both cities in Iran. During the Korean War, he served at the port of Inchon, Korea.

After World War II, Jack and Dorothy came to Bryson City to work for only six months. They never left. Jack found his life's calling serving the good people of Swain County. He taught vocational agriculture at Swain County High School for a number of years where he encouraged both students and parents to achieve their very best. By his example only ten years earlier, of achieving a college education during hard times, he led many a country boy to better themselves for the rest of their lives, many obtaining a college education themselves.

For most of his career, Jack served as "County Agent" with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, providing rural people with knowledge to better their lives and their community. He doctored many a sick cow or pig in the middle of the night for the simple pay of a firm handshake and a sincere thank you. For his tireless efforts in education and community development, Jack was inducted into the Western North Carolina Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2000. He continued to receive technical calls into his 93rd year.

His public service was not just job related. He taught Sunday School and served as Deacon at the First Baptist Church, was a director at Swain County Hospital, local banks, and the Swain County Welfare Board, now Social Services. He also served one term on the State of North Carolina Board of Social Services. Jack was an active Rotarian for many years and enjoyed participating in club service projects.

Jack loved to farm, raising cattle and sharing his bountiful garden produce with friends and neighbors.

A service celebrating the life of Jack Lyday will be held at the First Baptist Church of Bryson City of which he was a member at 3:00 PM on Saturday, April 20. The family will receive friends at the church beginning at 1:30 PM. Interment will immediately follow the service at Swain Memorial Park with military graveside rights conducted by VFW Post 9281. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to the First Baptist Church of Bryson City, P.O. Box 247, Bryson City, NC 28713.

Crisp Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Published in the Asheville Citizen-Times on Apr. 17, 2013
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