Ronald P. Lyles Sr., a retired police sergeant and welfare fraud investigator, died on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. He was 77.
He was born on April 13, 1942 in Philadelphia to the late Ruth Payne Lyles and John A. Lyles Sr. He was the third of nine children. He was educated in the Philadelphia public school system and graduated from Edison High School in June 1960. He later attended the Community College of Philadelphia where he studied criminal justice.
He and his wife, Blanche Dicks Lyles met at Gillespie Junior High School and have known each other since they were 12 years old. They were married on Jan. 28, 1962 and celebrated their 58th anniversary in 2020. Three sons were born to their union.
Lyles became a Philadelphia police officer in 1965. He entered the department at a time when civil rights activist and member of Philadelphia City Council Cecil B. Moore led the charge to integrate Girard College. After only five days in the Police Academy, Lyles and his class were assigned to the Girard College detail. After the situation was under control, he spent several weeks in the academy and was assigned to the 6th Police District. Lyles worked in several capacities in his career. He served in the Highway Patrol Unit and the Gang Control Unit when gangs were prevalent in the 70s and as a plain clothes undercover officer.
After being promoted to sergeant in 1977, Lyles served in the 39th Police District, the ACT Unit and the Civil Affairs Unit, working under the late Chief Inspector George Fenci. As supervisor there, Lyles handled labor strikes which included the teacher’s union and many racially related situations. He was one of two supervisors in charge of surveillance at the MOVE location on Osage Avenue and was present during the actual confrontation in May of 1985. He spent many days at the City Council hearings.
“Ron found his police experience to be quite invigorating,” his family said in a tribute. “His men came to respect him as a leader as he was not afraid to defend them before his superiors. He corrected his squad when they were wrong and he praised them when they were right. His men came to trust his judgement and respect his leadership.”
Lyles retired after 23 years on the force. During his career, he received 20 departmental commendations as well as many complimentary letters from citizens for job performance.
Lyles decided to take a position with Spectaguard as director of security at Prudential Insurance Company in Willow Grove. He worked there for eight years and in 1995 was elected as “Manager of the Year.”
In 2000, Lyles began working for the state of Pennsylvania as a welfare fraud investigator. After working for nine years, he finally retired because of a physical disability.
Lyles was a master at storytelling and blessed with a wonderful sense of humor, his family said. He was fascinated with boxing and easily rattled off names of personalities, facts and details of the sport. He loved football as well.
He was often told that he should have studied law because people asked his advice about automobile accidents, purchasing a car, housing situations and personal problems. He was consulted about transferring to different departments within the police force and intervened in many cases to make that happen. He enjoyed helping people.
He was preceded in death by his unnamed sister who died at birth and siblings, John Jr., Richard, Kenny and Terri.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by: his sons, Ronald Jr., Craig (Wendy) and and Kelly (Stephanie); grandchildren, Angela Lyles Ferguson (Gary), Brittany, Briana Joy, Ronald III, Kelly Jr., Ashley, Taylor and Tyra; nine great-grandchildren; brother, Steven (Sybil); sister, Crystal; sisters-in-laws, Feronda, Cassandra and Trudy and other relatives and friends.
Services were held Feb. 17 at Triumphant Faith International Worship Center, 401 E. Tabor Road. Viewing was at 9 a.m. Services followed at 11 a.m. Burial was private.
Beckett-Brown and Hodges Funeral Home handled the arrangements.