Lyle Diley: Longtime Violet Township trustee dies at 80

Nate Ellis
ThisWeek group

Lyle Diley, a longtime resident who served as a Violet Township trustee for nearly three decades, is being remembered as a good man and devoted public service by those who worked with him.

Diley, most recently of nearby Baltimore, died Dec. 15, according to an obituary in The Columbus Dispatch.

The son of Earl and Mary Diley, Lyle Diley, according to his obituary, was “the man with smile” and hailed as a skilled farmer who enjoyed raising crops and caring for his cattle, as well as spending time with his family, including his widow, Margie, her son David, and Diley's three children: Kevin, Karin King and Kathy Gastaldo.

Lyle Diley

A 1958 graduate of Pickerington High School, Diley served as a Violet Township trustee for 29 years. He was appointed in 1972 and continued to serve until he retired in December 2001.

At the time of his retirement, ThisWeek News quoted him as saying, “I am going to miss the residents of the township a whole lot. The interaction I have with the people of this township is something that will be hard to replace.”

Greg Butcher, Pickerington city manager, credited Diley for having the vision to calling on his fellow trustees to hire him as the township’s engineer in 2001.

At the time, Butcher said, township officials thought they could enhance how the township managed and maintained its roads, storm water systems and equipment by hiring someone in-house, as opposed to relying on the Fairfield County Engineer’s Office.

“At that time, I believe I was the first engineer to work directly as a township employee out of the over 1,300 townships in the state of Ohio,” Butcher said. “Lyle, in particular, really took a chance on that and really served as a foundation for me in my 20 years in local government.

“He was a good man, very principled, with a long career in local government and public service, and he was very well liked.”

Diley’s obituary recalled “one of his proudest moments was to nominate Kenn Taylor” as the township’s first full-time fire chief.

Taylor, who served as chief from 1986 to 2009 and remains on the force as a battalion chief, credited Diley with building the foundation for a top-notch fire and emergency-response operation for the township.

“He had a great deal of concern for the costs to the community, but at the same time he was very supportive of the fire department,” Taylor said. “He was very instrumental in bringing the fire department forward and making it what it is today.”

Beyond that, Taylor said, Diley was a friend.

“He was just an all-around fun guy,” he said. “He was fun to hang out with, fun to talk to.

“He had that smile, and he just had a way of mentoring and telling a story that had a lifelong lesson.”

Diley’s obituary said he served on numerous committees in Fairfield County as well as the Violet Township Cemetery Board.

Upon retiring, he was presented with a letter honoring him for his service from President George W. Bush.

In addition to serving in office with Diley from 1993 to 2001, current Violet Township Trustee Terry Dunlap said the two met when Dunlap was in second grade and Diley was in first at Pickerington School.

“Lyle was always a friendly kid, just like he was as an adult,” Dunlap said. “He really truly cared about the community and when he was a trustee, he was dedicated to doing the best he could for the community.”

Dunlap recalled how in addition to working the family farm, Diley worked at one of the two gas stations in town. 

“I think his dad instilled in him what my dad and my granddad instilled in me, and that’s if you’re going to give back, you give back to the community where you live,” Dunlap said. “He knew every road, why it was built.

“He’s a resource I won’t have anymore. He was a good friend, and I will miss him.”

Calling hours are scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Dwayne R. Spence Funeral Home, 550 Hill Road North, Pickerington. Funeral service will be held 10:30 a.m. Dec. 21 at the funeral home.

Interment will follow at Violet Cemetery. Masks are required in the funeral home, and social distancing must be observed. Seating is limited, and friends are invited to view the service via the livestream link at spencefuneralhome.com.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate