Robert E. Lyle, Jr.


SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Robert Edward Lyle Jr., 85, died Sunday, March 20, 2011, after a long illness.

He was born Jan. 26, 1926 in Atlanta, Ga., to the Rev. Robert E. Lyle Sr. and Adeline (Cason) Lyle, who preceded him in death. He was married to Dr. Gloria (Gilbert) Lyle from 1947 until her death in 1996.

He was educated at Oxford College and Emory University with a bachelor's degree in chemistry (1945) and a master's degree in chemistry (1947). He attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, where he received his doctorate in organic chemistry in 1949. He would remain a staunch Badger football fan for his entire life.

Robert is survived by his second wife, Anne (Kohl) Lyle of San Antonio; a cousin, Amanda Beason-Clair, of Atlanta; sister-in-law Pauline Kohl of San Antonio; and a brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Warren and Judith Kohl of Eliot, Maine.

WE REMEMBER: He had a long academic career starting as an assistant professor with Oberlin College in Ohio (1949-1951); assistant professor (1951-1953), associate professor (1953-1957) and full professor of chemistry at the University of New Hampshire, Durham (1957-1976). He served as professor and chairman of the department of chemistry at The University of North Texas, Denton (1977-1979). In 1979, he became vice president of the division of chemistry and chemical engineering at Southwest Research Institute, where he remained until his retirement in 1991.

During his retirement, Robert served as vice president of GRL Consultants (1992-2007). He was a visiting professor at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville (1973-74) and the University of Grenoble, France (1976). He also was a special postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and Oxford University, England (1965-66). He served as an adjunct professor at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine (1975-79), and the University of Texas at San Antonio (1985-present). He served on the editorial board of Index Chemicus and was editor of the Alpha Chi Sigma publication, The Hexagon, for several years. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Chi Sigma, Sigma Xi, and The Royal Society of Chemistry. He was a 60-plus year member of the American Chemical Society, where he served on the nominations and elections committee; publications committee; ad hoc committee for society action, lecturer and councilor. He worked as a visiting scientist and for the College Chemistry Consultants Service of the ACS Division of Chemical Education and as chairman, chairman-elect, board of directors and as director of operation interface (1971) of the ACS Northeastern Section. He served on the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council Committee for NSF Postdoctoral Fellowships (1961-64). He was a member of the San Antonio Local Section of the ACS, where he established the Dr. Gloria G. Lyle Memorial Scholarship Fund. He was the recipient of the Massachusetts Institute of Chemists, Section of American Institute of Chemists, Honor Scroll (1971) and the Harry and Carol Mosher Award (1986).

Robert had many students of whom he was extremely proud. They ranged from high school teachers to industrial chemists to university professors to a university president and a president of the American Chemical Society. He published more than 100 papers in collaboration with his students, and was the holder of several patents. The interaction with his students was what he missed most when he left teaching.  Testimonials from some of his students can be found here.

He was described by many as being a perfect southern gentleman. He had an infectious smile and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He treated everyone as equals, and was kind, generous and loving, He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.

Donations may be made to the University United Methodist Church or to the Dr. Gloria G. and Dr. Robert E. Lyle Endowed Professorship of the University of New Hampshire, University of New Hampshire Foundation, 9 Edgewood Road, Elliott Alumni Center, Durham, NH 03824. An online guest book is available at