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Published: Monday, 2/27/2006

Businessman wore many hats in Lyons

LYONS, Ohio - Doyle Gillespie, who worked tirelessly as a business owner, fireman, sheriff's deputy, and village councilman in the one-stoplight town where he was born and raised, died of congestive heart failure Sunday in Flower Hospital in Sylvania. He was 73.

"Work was his life. He loved to work," said his son, Steve, who now owns Doyle Welding on West Morenci Street, the business Mr. Gillespie bought from his mother in 1958 and sold to his son in 1994.

His son remembers the first words out of his father's mouth when the elder man woke up in a daze after a brain aneurism.

"He told me he was working on a carburetor. He thought he still had the nuts and bolts in his hand," Steve Gillespie said.

"He always told me, there's the right way, the wrong way, and my way. He made it hard to love him, but everybody liked him. You knew where you stood; he never beat around the bush."

Mr. Gillespie's son said it was difficult not to pick up his father's work ethic, no matter how gruff the old man was. The elder's 12-hour days at the shop made up only a portion of his schedule: he worked part-time as a Fulton County sheriff's deputy for 25 years starting in the 1960s, and was a volunteer with the Lyons-Royalton Fire Department for 43 years starting in 1950.

Outside of work, Mr. Gillespie was hesitant to sit still: He spent his weekends as a drummer in a local swing band named the Michigan Weekenders Band. The band played for three decades, stopping only in recent years when some of its members died.

Born and raised in Lyons, Mr. Gillespie graduated from Lyons High School in 1950, and left the year after to fight in the Korean War. He served in the U.S. Army as an infantryman, then was switched to the motor pool after fixing a Colonel's jeep in the midst of some heavy shelling.

After a shrapnel injury, Mr. Gillespie left the war in 1953 with the rank of corporal, having been denied promotion to sergeant for knocking two teeth from a captain's mouth during a late-night brawl.

"He was quite a live wire," his son said.

Upon returning from the war, he met his wife at a dance hall in Michigan, and started working at his father's shop, then called the Lyons Oil Garage, as a mechanic. Years after buying the shop, he chose to focus on his joy: welding and fixing farm machinery and agricultural equipment.

Mr. Gillespie also served on Lyons Village Council for 13 years in the 1960s and 1970s, and the village water board after that for four years. He was a member of Lyons VFW Post 7576 and American Legion Post 368 in Morenci, Mich.

Surviving are his daughters, Luann O'Hara and Vicki Smith; son, Steve; brother, Ivan, and six grandchildren.

Visitation will be tomorrow after 2 p.m. at the Eagle Funeral Home-Charles Fink Chapel, in Morenci, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The family suggests tributes to the Lyons-Royalton Fire Department or Lyons VFW Post 7576.

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