LaVern Pyles Jr., Navy commander and Pa. lawmaker

LaVern Pyles Jr.
LaVern Pyles Jr.
Posted: June 28, 2013

LaVern Pyles Jr., 94, a retired Navy commander and former state legislator from Montgomery County, died Thursday, June 20, of heart disease and cancer at Brittany Pointe Estates in Lansdale.

Mr. Pyles was elected as a Republican to the Pennsylvania legislature in 1974 and represented the 151st District in eastern Montgomery County for six years ending Nov. 30, 1980.

A native of Washington, Mr. Pyles graduated from McKinley Technical High School in 1937. He worked for the Western Electric Division of AT&T as a cable splicer in his hometown for two years before joining the Corps of Cadets at Clemson A&M, now Clemson University, in South Carolina.

Although he graduated in 1943 with a degree in civil engineering, Mr. Pyles was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy in 1942 due to the demand for naval officers during World War II.

He was based at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. But his duties as engineering duty officer included ship-repair training, testing, and acceptance of PT boats and landing craft in New Orleans, and repair of battle-damaged ships in Pearl Harbor.

When the war ended, he transferred to the Navy Civil Engineer Corps, which deployed him to Morocco, Antigua, and the Philippines. He served as a naval officer until January 1967 and retired from active duty with the rank of commander.

After 1967, he worked as a civil engineer, consulting for firms in Southeastern Pennsylvania. He retired from the workforce in 1982.

Mr. Pyles had many interests. He was an avid Clemson football fan and attended reunions until recently.

Something of an adventurer, he marked his 86th birthday by skydiving out of a plane at 14,000 feet.

At various times, he tried hang gliding, parasailing, and a hot-air balloon ride.

His family said Mr. Pyles expressed his interest in the development of young men by volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America, the Upper Dublin Junior Athletic Association, and the Abington YMCA. He helped out Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels.

He also traveled to Biloxi, Miss., to assist in disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

For many years, he played golf and enjoyed model railroading. He was a skilled home handyman and woodworker from years spent with the Navy Seabee construction forces, his family said.

"He tried to teach all of us how to do home repairs," said his daughter, Lani MacAniff, who owns a toolbox.

Mr. Pyles lived in Fayetteville and Dresher before moving to Brittany Pointe Estates in July 2012.

He married twice, to Evelyn Mae Vollmer and Audrey Fosdick Rinde-Thorsen.

Both died earlier, as did a brother.

Surviving, besides his daughter, are sons Troy and Randall; stepchildren Peer, Mark, and Beverly Rinde-Thorsen; four grandchildren; and a special friend, Matilda Paugh.

A memorial service will be 2 p.m. Monday, July 1, in the chapel at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1000 W. Main St. (Routes 63 and 363), Lansdale. Visitation will start at 1 p.m.

Burial will be later in Arlington National Cemetery.

Donations may be sent to the Wounded Warrior Project, Box 758517, Topeka, Kan. 66675.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www.shellyfuneralhomes.com.


Contact Bonnie L. Cook

at 610-313-8102 or bcook@phillynews.com.

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