Obituary of the Very Reverend Dr. Guy Lytle

Guy & Maria greeting me outside the Franklin Pearson House in Cowan following my wedding

Guy was a mentor and a great friend and he will be sorely missed.  I would not be where I am today, nor would my ministry be as it is without his care and influence.  I will always remember the hours we spent talking about church history and obscure topics that few others found interesting.  Some of my best times at Sewanee were spent in his classes, or as I worked as his work study student–a job which often consisted of finding reference materials for the latest lecture or essay he was working on.  He once invited me to lead one of his World Christianity classes when he had to be out of town, and he was always encouraging and ready with a joke and smile.  All of these things are simply poor reflections of his care for all of his students, and of his big heart, which made him a pastor and priest to so many who were themselves training to become priests and learning to pastor God’s people.

The Very Rev. Dr. Guy F. Lytle III

The Very Reverend Doctor Guy Fitch Lytle III, Professor of Church History and Anglican Studies, Bishop Juhan Professor of Divinity, and Dean Emeritus of The School of Theology of the University of the South, died on July 15, 2011 in Winchester, TN, of complications of diabetes.

He was born on October 14, 1944, to Nelle Stuart Lytle and Guy Fitch Lytle, Jr., in Birmingham, AL. An avid tennis player, Dr. Lytle won the Alabama Youth Tennis Championship title and went on to compete in the National Youth Tennis Championship. Dr. Lytle graduated from Princeton University in 1966. He was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University in England, and earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University.
After teaching positions at the Catholic University of America, University of Texas: Austin, and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Dr. Lytle joined the University of the South as Dean of the School of Theology. For eleven years he served the University of the South with creativity and distinction, during which time the School doubled in size, built a new chapel – The Chapel of the Apostles, found financial stability, and gained national prominence. During Dr. Lytle’s tenure, he was a significant supporter of theology and the liturgical arts, and vastly increased participation of Sewanee students in world mission outreach and cross-cultural experiences. With his wife Maria, he developed programs in Hispanic ministries and attracted significant numbers of Latino students to the School. Above all, Dr. Lytle was an Episcopal priest of unwavering commitment to his Lord, Jesus Christ.

He is survived by his wife, Maria Rasco Lytle, of Sewanee, TN; his brother, Stuart Lytle, Newburyport, MA; his daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth Lytle Knowles and Joe Knowles, of Lynchburg, VA; his daughter, Ashley Lytle, of Atlanta, GA; and his grandchildren, Madeline, Sophia, and Jacob Knowles, of Lynchburg, VA.

The family will greet visitors on Monday, July 18, from 12:00-1:30 PM at the University of the South’s Chapel of the Apostles, Sewanee, TN. The funeral service will follow at 2:00 PM, with the Right Rev. Don Wimberly officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Dr. Lytle’s memory to the School of Theology Dean’s Discretionary Fund for student financial needs.

 

Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints,
where sorrow and pain are no more,
neither sighing, but life everlasting.

You only are immortal, the creator and maker of mankind;
and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth shall we
return. For so did you ordain when you created me, saying,
“You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” All of us go down
to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia,
alleluia, alleluia.

Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints,
where sorrow and pain are no more,
neither sighing, but life everlasting. (BCP, 499)

  • http://www.facebook.com/mr.tapeguy Craig Berlin

    Guy Lytle was my single favorite professor not just in Plan II but in my entire 5 years at two colleges at the University of Texas.  I am deeply saddened to have found him after all these years only to learn he had to step down amidst surely unfounded controversy and subsequently passed away.

    For a man of deep faith his willingness to explore questions of dogma and tolerance were remarkable, not to mention his sense of humor and general warmth.  As I recall he was denied tenure at UT for not writing enough or somesuch and everyone who knew him was outraged.

    He will not be forgotten.

    • http://frjody.com Jody Howard

      Craig,

      Thank you for your comment. Guy was certainly a gifted professor, but more than that, he was a great friend and mentor to many. He is greatly missed. It is good to hear from someone else who had their life touched by him.

      Also, in regard to the situation you mention, Guy was cleared of wrongdoing and continued as Dean. His stepping down, as I understand it (I wasn’t a student at the time) was related more to the interpersonal dynamics with the faculty in the aftermath. Regardless, nothing can takeaway from what he did for the seminary, and especially, from his impact on his students over the years.

  • Jim Taheny

    It is only by chance that I have learned about the sad death of Guy. In the 90s I used to drive him and Ann Chisum on their cathedral tours around the British Isles. In the years I knew him, we became good friends even though I’d only see him a few times per year. We used to have some good laughs and I could have listened to him taking about anything, he had such a riveting control with his voice. He was such a lovely man and will be missed by so many people I’m sure. The world would be a much better place if we had more men like him. R.I.P. big man.