Leslie Richard Lyle

Leslie Richard Lyle passed away peacefully at his home in Helena, Montana December 2. Lyle was born September 18, 1928 to Leslie and Mable Lyle.

Lyle was born into mining as his father owned the King Tut Mine, near Austin, Montana. He grew up in Lenox, outside of Helena. In April of 1946, Lyle completed Navy boot camp in San Diego, California. He was among thousands of onlookers when Howard Hughes took his “Spruce Goose”for the infamous mile-long flight in Long Beach Harbor on November 2, 1947.

Lyle worked at the East Helena Smelter. He owned his own business, Rocky Mountain Radiator, and also worked at the sawmills as a carriage rider. The mining industry was Lyle’s passion. “It’s a Butte-iful night to haul some rock!” is how he started his nightly shifts for many years in Butte, Montana, at the Anaconda Copper Mine’s Berkeley Pitt. According to his family, Lyle was well known as one of the best operators pushing the limits every shift in his 100 ton Haul Pack truck until the mine closed down.

In 1975, Lyle moved to Leadville and started working for Climax Molybdenum mine. Lyle soon proved to be a highly skilled operator in severe weather conditions and was promoted to train his co-workers on how to operate and maintain the 120 ton Haul Pack Trucks.

Hoppy Hopkins was among those whom he trained and became a true friend. Hopkins described Lyle as a matter-of-fact kind of man, who used to say “the tougher she gets, the better we like it!” In 1984, Lyle relocated to Parachute, working The Long Ridge Project owned by Unocal Oil Co., operating a lube truck as an oiler. Lyle returned to Climax for the end of production and shut-down, working in the mill as an operator in the drying plant.

In 1986, Lyle moved to Imlay, Nevada. Without submitting an application, the pit supervisor for NA Degestrom Florida Canyon Gold Mine hired Lyle immediately due to his experience as operator and trainer in the open pit. He retired from Florida Canyon Mine in 1990, although he worked part time for a reclamation project in Summitville.

Lyle then moved back to his hometown of Helena. He enjoyed traveling around visiting friends and family. He often was seen around Helena in his 1964 Buick Wildcat, wearing his worn-out black cowboy hat and vest, smoking his pipe, waving to familiar faces with his ear-to-ear grin. Lyle will truly be missed by so many, his family said.

Lyle is preceded in death by his grandparents, Joseph and Fredricka Roberts, and parents Leslie and Mable Lyle.

Lyle is survived by daughters Madelyn Lyle and James of Anaconda, Montana, Julie Bell Capps of Canyon Ferry, Montana, Juneau and Brad Davis of Belgrade, Montana and Cassie Lyle Greene of Reno, Nevada; grandchildren Stephanie Roth of Belgrade, Heather Ward of Elko, Bonnie Ward of Loomis, California, Leslie Suttles of Kingman, Arizona, Joshua Pocha of Canyon Ferry, Cody and Allison Harris of Belgrade, Kyler and Ranae Harris of Belgrade, and Jake Greene and Mitchell Greene, both of Reno; and great-grandchildren Brandon, George, Shawn, Mason, Jade, Shane, Steven, Morrison, Sullivan, Alicia and Sofia.

Cremation has taken place at Simple Cremation Montana. A memorial and celebration for Lyle’s life is to be held in the spring of 2021.