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.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
POTUS as the Great Defender of the Faith
Did you have the same reaction that I did back in 2001 when — in an official speech specifically directed to the Christian world during one of his trips to the Middle East, a speech whose official theme was "A New Beginning" — President George W. Bush firmly rejected the constitutional separation of church and state, and instead proclaimed that his official duties included the defense and promotion of one religion (emphasis mine):
So I have known Christianity on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Christianity must be based on what Christianity is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Christianity wherever they appear. (Applause.)
That was actually today, not 2001. It was President Obama, not President Bush. And it was Islam, not Christianity.
It's fine for an American President to try to understand, respect, and avoid giving unnecessary offense to Muslims, in or outside of America. But pandering to them is unseemly. And pretending that "fight[ing] against negative sterotypes of Islam wherever they appear" is "part of [the] responsibility [of the] President of the United States" is grotesque. Did our self-proclaimed former professor of constitutional law actually read this speech before he delivered it from his teleprompter? If he did, then that raises the question: Has he actually read his present job description, or the rest of the Constitution and its amendments?
UPDATE (Mon Jun 8 @ 7:40pm): As commenter K~Bob mentioned below, Houston-based talk-radio host (and AM Operations Manager for Clearchannel AM stations KTRH, KPRC, and KBME) Michael Berry, guest-hosting for Mark Levin on his syndicated national radio show last Friday, twice referenced and read approvingly from this post on the air. Mr. Berry was kind enough to phone me today and also to send me a link to a podcast of the broadcast, for all of which I'm genuinely grateful!