Home > Obituaries > Rev. Eugene Lyles

The Rev. Eugene “Gene” Lyles, Sr., a prominent resident of Greensboro, died Sept. 9 at the age of 87. Funeral services were held Saturday, Sept. 17 at 11:00 a.m. at the Mars Hill Family Life Center in Greensboro with the Rev. Frank Lyles, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Sawyerville, officiating and Washington and Paige Mortuary directing.

Lyles was born October 6, 1934 to the late Sister Eliza (Pratcher) and Elder James “Doc” Lyles. He confessed Christ at an early age. In his life, he would become a community leader in Hale County, as well as a political activist, and an entrepreneur.

At the age of 12, he began to help support himself and his siblings by acquiring the skill of a master barber. He attended and completed his high school education at what was formerly known as the Hale County Training School in Greensboro in the spring of 1954.

After graduation, he began to serve his community both as a Civil Rights activist and as an entrepreneur. In the 1960’s, during the height of segregation and racism, he aspired to build a building on Tuscaloosa Street in Greensboro, against significant opposition. He persevered, and opened several businesses in the location, including “Gene’s Barber,” “Beauty Shop,” “Lyles Diner,” and the “Cash and Carry” grocery store. His businesses were attacked and partially damaged by an electrical fire, but he showed resilience in quickly reopening as a service to his community. The building still stands to this day, al though some of the business names have changed over the years.


Well-known and respected in the community, Lyles became the first black man to seek the office of mayor of Greensboro in 1972. His candidacy ignited a new movement for the city of Greensboro.

He worked alongside his family, including his wife, Rosie, children, and siblings, by providing mentoring and job opportunities to countless people in the community. He opened his heart to other businesses and community organizations such as the Kiwanis Club International and the Elks Lodge of Greensboro. During the course of his service to the community, Lyles received various accolades in recognition of his service including the Kiwanis Club Leadership Award (1993), Family Humanitarian Award, given by his siblings (1994), Labors Club Award (1994), the Lyndon Baines Johnson Political Freedom Award (1995), the 2000 Leadership Award, the Pioneer Award (2002), and the Community Service Lifetime Commitment Award (2003)

In 2006, he became a duly licensed minster of the gospel. During this time, he also served as a member of the Greensboro Housing Authority board and the Hale County Hospital Board. He was presently serving as an active member of the Alabama Democratic Executive Committee and was Chairman of the Hale County Alabama Democratic Conference from its establishment until 2020. In 2008, he received his associate equivalent degree from Birmingham Theological Seminary College.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Elder James “Doc” and Eliza Pratcher Lyles; eleven siblings, Susie Lyles, Mamie Lyles, Leona (Eugene) Walker, Sylvester Lyles, Virginia Pickens Allen, Abraham (Ann) Lyles, Joseph Lyles, Alphonso Lyles, Catherine Pratcher Jackson, Henry Pratcher, and Thornton Pratcher.

Survivors include his devoted wife, Rosie N. Lyles; five children, Theophus Charles “T.C.” (Beverly) Garret, James Levet Madison, Gregory Lyles, Eugene Lyles Jr., and Esmarelda Lyles; nine grandchildren; three great grandchildren; nine siblings, Ethel Brock, Andrew (Sadie) Lyles, Sandy (Rosie) Lyles, Daniel (Felicia) Lyles, Amos (Cora) Lyles, Frank (Bernice) Lyles, Rachel Jones, Geneva Cobb, Irene Banks, and Joseph Pratcher; four sisters-in-law, Joyce, Rosa, Wisteria, Altheastine; one brother-in-law, Walter; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and mentees.

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