The Man Behind Lyle Lodge

By June 21, 2017News

Judge Matthew150Here in Fort Worth, Dr. Judge Matthew Lyle is remembered for many things. As his obituary states, he was a prominent general practitioner who delivered more than 10,000 Tarrant County babies, built the Ballinger Street Medical Building, founded the Doctor’s General Hospital, and wrote two books.

Here at First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth, we remember Dr. Lyle for all of this and more. “His work and faith were a big part of his life,” Foundation Director Sid Johnston wrote in a blog detailing the story of Dr. Lyle as one of the Foundation’s original founders. “Judge was very active in the Men’s Bible class, in Sunday School classes, and all the activities of First Methodist. The family was at church every Sunday and Wednesday, his daughters recall, no matter what.” Dr. Lyle served our church as a longtime member and chairman of the Board of Trustees, and continues to serve us to this day with his gift of our very own Lyle Lodge.

“Judge Lyle’s unique understanding of business, insurance, and real estate was apparent,” Sid continues. “It was Judge Lyle’s guidance and support that inspired the purchase of the First Street Mission site, a number of parking lots, and eventually made possible the property that is today a church-owned and often-used retreat on Eagle Mountain Lake.”

lyle-lodge-1This 6.3-acre property located at 7179 Peden Road in Azle, Texas, was donated to the church by its namesake, Dr. Lyle, in 1960. Even all those years ago it was clear how much Lyle Lodge would mean to our church’s future. “Great interest in this project was shown by members of the church who could visualize what a great recreational asset this would provide,” wrote J.D.F. Williams in “A History of First United Methodist Church Fort Worth, Texas.” Several Sunday School classes contributed sizable donations to help improve the site.

The camp is composed of a large dining room and kitchen, a caretaker’s residence, two dormitories housing 25 persons each, and restrooms. The camp grounds include tennis and sand volleyball courts, a swimming pool, a fishing dock, and an outdoor worship center. The area has ample lights, beautiful landscaping, and “trees and lake that add much to the enjoyment of the use of the lodge.” It has been our setting for summer day camps, retreats and workshops, outdoor worship, special events like our recent Easter Egg Hunt, and more. Plus, it is available for rent by community groups.

Dr. Lyle lived life to the fullest, and his own love of land and the great outdoors was something that he passed on to others — here at First Church and beyond. In one of his books, “Preparation for Retirement,” later renamed “Practical Living for Today and Tomorrow,” he described four things as essential to peace in retirement: religion, education, mental and physical health, and money. A 1963 newspaper article noted, “It was clear that Dr. Lyle had taken a big swallow of the same kind of therapy he prescribes for his patients: Plan for retirement and then have fun.”

Dr. Lyle’s city “farm” was 12 acres of hill and valley, and he was known as a hunter, sportsman, traveler, and lover of the outdoors. As he said in his interview, “I have more hobbies than a cat has fleas.” He was referring to a long list that included oil, insurance, church work, tending to his sugar cane patch, and raising peanuts. “According to his daughters, he was interested in everything,” Sid adds. “Friends and family attest to the fact that he was the most open-minded person they ever met, an extrovert who knew no strangers, and was the happiest of people.” Along with exercise and eating right, Lyle’s lifestyle and temperament were key to his mental and physical health.

On religion, Dr. Lyle suggested daily reading and Bible study, and “above all, pray.” For education and its continuation, he recommended enriching life by learning new things — and, he pointed out, remembering that you don’t have to be rich to travel. When it came to money, Dr. Lyle advised developing a healthy respect for financial security. “It is better to spend what is left after saving, rather than to save what is left after spending,” he wrote. His advice was to give 10 percent to the church and save 10 percent.

All of these things considered, Dr. Lyle’s wholesome recipe for a life worth living and leaving behind still holds true today, and he himself followed it in ways that will long remain. “Dr. Lyle is remembered for having joyously shared all his gifts and talents with his church family for over half a century,” Sid says. “We are reminded of Dr. Judge Lyle’s life and work and his generosity and stewardship each time we visit Lyle Lodge. And we can enjoy the sanctuary of our magnificent Fifth Street Church building that is maintained by the Foundation that he and his co-founders began in 1964. May Dr. Judge M. Lyle rest in peace, with our thanks for his faith AND good works.” 

Contact: Rev. Chuck Graff | cgraff@myfumc.org | 817-339-5065

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