Monday, June 22, 2009
In memorium: James Dillard Dyer, Jr. (12/24/22 to 6/22/09)
[As written and released for publication in the Lamesa [Texas] Press-Reporter, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, and other west Texas publications, by his family:]
Lamesa native and life-long resident James Dillard Dyer, Jr. — a World War II veteran who became a long-time merchant and civic leader — died peacefully in his sleep during the early morning hours of Monday, June 22, 2009. He was 86 years old.
Born on Christmas Eve of 1922, J.D. Dyer, Jr. was the oldest son of prominent Lamesa school-teacher, postmaster, and merchant J.D. Dyer, Sr. and his wife Emma Lee Dyer. As a 1940 graduate of Lamesa High School, young Dyer — sometimes known to friends as “Jo-Do” due to his initials — had been president of his senior class and active in the high school band and debate. Dyer volunteered for the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Texas even before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and through an accelerated curriculum, he earned both his Bachelor of Business Administration degree and his commission as an Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve on the same day — February 29, 1944.
Dyer was immediately activated to duty and assigned to the U.S.S. Zeilin (APA-3), an amphibious attack transport which served as a relief flagship for the Commander Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet. Dyer caught up to the ship in March 1944, and he commanded one of its landing craft, putting troops ashore under fire, during the Battle of Guam in July 1944. “Tex” Dyer was among the junior officers on the bridge on January 13, 1945 — when the Zeilin survived a kamikaze strike that left dozens killed and wounded — and his service included both the invasion of Luzon in January and the landing of reinforcements at the Battle of Iwo Jima in March 1945. Slated to participate in the invasion of Japan, Dyer and the Zeilin were at Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands in August when the atomic bombs ended the war. After further service on the Zeilin moving troops from various Pacific bases to Okinawa and Korea, Dyer was released from active duty in February 1946 as a Lieutenant (Junior Grade). He attended several happy reunions of the crew and extended family of the “Mighty Z” during the 1980s and 1990s as America belatedly began to recognize properly what Tom Brokaw has called “The Greatest Generation.”
After brief stints with the Texas-New Mexico Pipeline Co. and the State Reserve Life Insurance Co., Dyer returned to Lamesa to take over his father’s business, then known as Dyer Hardware & Auto Supply. Over the next 30-odd years and at several locations, that business evolved to become Dyer Appliance and then Dyer Furniture & Appliance — selling iconic American brands like Zenith, Frigidaire, Maytag, and Sealy to generations of Dawson County families under the motto “We Service What We Sell.” Along with Karl Cayton and Paul Edgmon, Dyer was also a founding principal in the original Lamesa Cable T.V. Company.
Dyer married Lamesa native Helen F. Pope in 1947, and together they reared their daughter and two sons before they divorced. In 1974, Dyer married Odessa L. Williamson of Levelland. Before her death in 2003, J.D. and Odessa led an active retired life that included many international tours with the “Flying Longhorns” of the U.T. Ex-Students’ Association (of which they were both Life Members). Dyer’s hobbies in his later years included the planting and care of what became the formidable orchard surrounding his home on Skyline Drive.
Service — through city government, and through civic and charitable organizations — played a continuous and vital part of J.D. Dyer’s life. He served on the Lamesa City Council from 1955-1958 and as Mayor of Lamesa from 1958-1959. A multi-decade member of the Lamesa Chamber of Commerce, Dyer served as its President in 1969. Dyer also served in leadership roles over the years in various local and regional organizations to promote the development of U.S. Highway 87 and to secure clean, safe drinking water for Lamesa and its surrounding area. Dyer was also among the original organizers and continual supporters of the Lamesa High School Golden Tornado Jubilee Reunions, and he served as chairman of the 1975 Jubilee.
In high school, Dyer had earned the rank of Eagle Scout and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow in what was first known as “Troop 1,” then “Troop 22,” and then “Troop 722” — the Boy Scout troop founded by his father in 1921 and then led for many years thereafter by the late Joseph N. Spikes. Dyer’s lifelong support of and contributions to Scouting were recognized by the South Plains Council of the Boy Scouts of America with the Silver Beaver Award in 1964. Dyer also was a multi-decade member and leader of the Lamesa Noon Lions Club and Lions Club International. He served many terms in various offices (including President) in the local club, and as District Governor of Lions District 2-T2 in 1960-1961. With his family, he attended many state, national, and international Lions Club conventions across the U.S. and abroad, and he was an active supporter of such programs as the Texas Lions Camp at Kerrville.
Dyer was raised as a member of the First Christian Church of Lamesa, and he served among its deacons and elders while married to Helen. Later, he and Odessa were joyous and proud members of the First Presbyterian Church of Lamesa, where funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 25.
J.D. Dyer, Jr. was preceded in death by his parents and by his younger sister and brother, Mrs. Tennie Marie Dyer Lengel of Dallas and Dr. Royce Dyer of Lamesa. He is survived by his younger sister, Mrs. Jean Dyer Brower of Lamesa, and by three children — his daughter, Mrs. Gwen Dyer Johnson of Austin (and her husband Jimmy); his son, Dr. James R. Dyer of Argyle (and his wife Shelli); and his son, William J. Dyer of Houston. He is also survived by eight grandchildren (Jeffrey, Liana, David, Grace, Kevin, Sarah, Adam, and Molly), four great-grandchildren (Jared, Laura, Price, and Jemma), and many other cherished relatives and life-long friends. For anyone inclined toward making a charitable donation in J.D. Dyer’s memory, the family has suggested the Boy Scouts of America (www.scouting.org), the Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville (www.lionscamp.com), or the Dal Paso Museum in Lamesa.
Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to In memorium: James Dillard Dyer, Jr. (12/24/22 to 6/22/09) and sent a trackback ping are listed here:
(1) rls made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 5:41:00 PM | Permalink
My condolences at this time. I wish you and your family well.
(2) Boyd made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 6:21:10 PM | Permalink
My condolences for your loss - your father sounds like a man worthy of much respect.
(3) The Drill SGT made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 6:37:48 PM | Permalink
My heart goes out to you and yours, Beldar.
(4) DTW made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 6:52:09 PM | Permalink
My thoughts are with you Beldar.
(5) Charlie made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 6:53:26 PM | Permalink
A good life, well lived. God bless and Godspeed.
It's already been said, but quantity has a quality of its own. You have my condolences as well.
My condolences, Bill. I know it's not easy to lose your dad, even if he has lived a long and full life, as yours clearly did.
Please accept my condolences. Long life to his children and grandchildren.
(9) Stashiu3 made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 9:08:18 PM | Permalink
Prayers and condolences for your loss.
(10) Bob Reed made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 9:11:54 PM | Permalink
Condolences to you and your family. May God rest your Father's sould, and grace you all with strength you need in your time of grief...
(11) EricPWJohnson made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 9:18:53 PM | Permalink
God Bless your Father for the lives he touched and the life he led
Our condolences to you and yours, Bill. Your family is in our prayers.
(13) DRJ made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 9:36:10 PM | Permalink
What a wonderful tribute to a fine man. God bless Mr. Dyer and his family.
(14) John Costellol made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 9:48:48 PM | Permalink
My condiolences Your father will clearly be missed.
(15) Mike Myers made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 10:07:15 PM | Permalink
I'm sorry for your and your family's loss. It seems that in smaller towns the good that is in some people has more of a chance to shine through in a life well lived.
(16) htom made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 10:15:32 PM | Permalink
My condolences to you, your family, and your father's friends, too.
(17) Ned made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 10:26:41 PM | Permalink
I'm so sorry. In honor of your father:
(18) Ag80 made the following comment | Jun 22, 2009 11:43:50 PM | Permalink
God bless your father for a long life well-lived.
(19) Brooks made the following comment | Jun 23, 2009 12:08:58 AM | Permalink
God bless that fine father of yours. He carries on in you.
(20) papertiger made the following comment | Jun 23, 2009 2:55:42 AM | Permalink
Bummer. As the son of a son of sailor I keep my eye open for sayings applicable to such an occasion. Here is one that stuck with me.
It's called "The Glad Shout"
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, “There she goes!”
Gone where? Gone from my sight ... that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There she goes!” there are other eyes watching her coming and their voices ready to take up the glad shouts “Here she comes!”
Henry Van Dyke
A Parable of Immortality
(21) A.W. made the following comment | Jun 23, 2009 7:53:15 AM | Permalink
My condolences and for what it is worth, i am confident that he is in a better place.
My condolences as well. It's not easy to lose a parent. If you are any indicator, he could be proudest of his progeny.
(23) Milhouse made the following comment | Jun 23, 2009 8:34:18 AM | Permalink
מן השמים תנוחמו
May you be comforted from Heaven.
(24) Peg C. made the following comment | Jun 23, 2009 9:21:17 AM | Permalink
My condolences as well. And what a well-lived life.
(25) April made the following comment | Jun 23, 2009 9:26:57 AM | Permalink
My condolences and prayers go out to you and your family. It is never easy losing a loved one, though we know that they are in a better place.
(26) EW1(SG) made the following comment | Jun 23, 2009 10:58:34 AM | Permalink
Aw, damn. I'm very sorry to hear of the loss your father. My best wishes to you and your family.
(27) P.K. Scott made the following comment | Jun 23, 2009 11:51:05 AM | Permalink
My condolences and prayers on the loss of your father. I know how hard it is to lose a parent.
(28) JVW made the following comment | Jun 23, 2009 11:51:07 AM | Permalink
Condolences to you and your family. I wonder if my parents ever encountered your dad on one of the Flying Longhorn trips. That generation earned the right to see the world.
(29) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Jun 23, 2009 1:08:53 PM | Permalink
Dear Mr. Dyer: This is a fearsome time for you and your family. However expected this might be, it is always a horrendous loss. Stay close to your children your siblings, and above all, your aunt, who are learning something from this, something we all have to learn and don't want to.
I am so sorry.
I am sorry for your loss. It was Lamesa's loss, Texas's loss and America's loss as well. We were all blessed by your father's presence on this earth.
Your dad's obituary is a superlative tribute to him and his family. I lost my dad when he was 48 and I was 20. I still miss him, and try to honor his memory 49 years later. I know that these voids are never filled no matter when they occur; but it is apparent that your memories of your dad will never die.
God bless you and your family in your hour of sorrow, and God bless your dad in his victory over death and his well-earned Peace that passes all understanding.
(32) Linus made the following comment | Jun 24, 2009 12:00:21 AM | Permalink
I'm sorry for your loss, Beldar. I loved the anecdote about how they called him "Jo-Do". So fitting for a guy whose son is widely known as Beldar.
(33) Michael Adams made the following comment | Jun 24, 2009 8:04:19 AM | Permalink
My deepest sympathies. People sometimes say things that they ought to think about more thoroughly, like "He'd lived a good long life." Perhaps even, "He was failing and now he's in a better place." Well, maybe all of those are true, but it still hurts, like a knife in the belly. I am so sorry for your loss. May God comfort you and your family.
(34) stan made the following comment | Jun 24, 2009 9:05:16 AM | Permalink
My prayers for your family.
(35) David Morrison made the following comment | Jun 24, 2009 2:29:24 PM | Permalink
My condolences as well. God bless your father.
(36) Joseph Malleis made the following comment | Jun 24, 2009 4:16:08 PM | Permalink
Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute to your father, Beldar. As your family mourns a very personal loss, the rest of us will mourn the loss of a great citizen, a great veteran, a great example what it means to be an American. I extend my most sincere condolences to you and your family. May God grant your father eternal rest and bestow His most loving blessings upon your family.
Dyer's contribution was immense and significant. He is certainly a great loss. Condolence to his loved ones.
(38) cthulhu made the following comment | Jun 25, 2009 2:25:47 AM | Permalink
May he live on in your memory for many, many years to come -- and may the pain of your loss be comforted by his constant presence in your remembrance.
I stand with all the others in extending condolences to you and your family. Losing a parent is difficult, even if his death was not unexpected. May God's peace settle in your hearts and may your father's memory remain bright and clear, reflecting the man he was.
(40) Samuel Smiley made the following comment | Jun 28, 2009 5:07:40 PM | Permalink
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, Bill. One thing stands clear about your father's life--his devotion to Lamesa and its people. He is a part of what made that dusty little West Texas town seem at times so vibrant and unique. We Lamesans all benefited from that devotion.
(41) Friend #1 made the following comment | Jun 30, 2009 10:34:10 PM | Permalink
My initial post got bounced. I just wanted to say that Beldar's Dad must have been a remarkable man. He raised a truly remarkable son.
(42) Marla VanKuren made the following comment | Jul 1, 2009 10:59:32 PM | Permalink
My condolences for your loss - your father sounds like a great person & American.
(43) saveliberty made the following comment | Jul 4, 2009 5:18:47 AM | Permalink
I am very sorry for your loss.
I'm sorry I'm so late on this, my condolences to you and your family.
(45) Laura P. made the following comment | Jul 5, 2009 8:48:24 PM | Permalink
I am so very sorry to read of your Dad's death. I remember visiting his and Odessa's home and seeing the obvious warmth and love they shared. I also remember the obvious pride he showed openly for you when we visited. I always saw your Dad in you and know that has been passed on to your children. Having lost my Dad a little over a year ago, I know what a tremendous loss this is and mourn your loss with you. Laura
My condolences to you and your family, Beldar.
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