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Gerald D. Lyda Sr.
Gerald D. Lyda Sr., of Fort Stockton, Texas, died Monday, Nov. 14, 2005, at the age of 83.
He suffered a heart attack at his home in Fort Stockton on Sunday, Nov. 12, and passed away in the Alliance Hospital in Odessa in the company of his friends and family.
He was born on a hill country farm near Marble Falls in January, 1923, to George and Nita Lyda. He was raised in the Burnet and Marble Falls area and graduated from Burnet High School.
As a young man, he worked on ranches and railroads, and learned the skills of a carpenter. He married his high school sweetheart, Randa Jean Green, and they had their first son, Gerald D., in 1945. Their second son, Gene, was born when his father was working on the Evans Ranch near Pandora.
In 1947, Gerald left the ranch life he loved to return to construction work on the University of Texas Memorial Stadium project -- finding time to build his family a small home in north Austin while working for Farnsworth and Chambers Inc. of Houston.
Their third child, Eunita Jo, was born in Shreveport, La., in 1950.
Under his mentor, H. Alvin Lott, Gerald moved quickly up the construction ladder to superintendent, and was transferred to San Antonio in 1954 to build Wilford Hall Hospital at Lackland Air Force Base.
In 1959, Gerald and Burnet County rancher Steinmetz Darragh formed their own construction company, which eventually became Lyda Inc. Through the years, Lyda Inc. and its subsidiaries built such projects as the expansion of Memorial Stadium in Austin, the Tower of the Americas, the Theatre for the Performing Arts, the San Antonio Convention Center (joint ventures with H.A. Lott Inc.), as well as the Fiesta Texas Theme Park (joint venture with Manhattan Construction), the Texas Military Institute, the Hilton Hill Country Resort, major portions of the Alamodome, Westin La Cantera Resort, the Westin Riverwalk Hotel, North Frost Bank, The Fountainhead, the Forum, the Uranga Towers, Union Square, Diamond Shamrock corporate headquarters, many military facilities and hospitals, and retail, office, bank, and health care facilities throughout Texas.
Throughout his life, Gerald owned more than 20 different ranches, including the Ladder Ranch in southeastern New Mexico, which Ted Turner eventually acquired from him. The Lyda family owned and operated many cattle ranches in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Lyda was named by Texas Monthly and Worth magazines as one of the largest landowners in Texas and the Southwest.
Three years ago, he sold his wholly-owned subsidiary, Lyda Constructors Inc., to Swinterton Inc. of San Francisco and retired with his wife, Randa, to his beloved La Escalera Ranch in Fort Stockton. He remained actively involved -- purchasing real estate, building a new Escalera feedlot, and buying and selling cattle for the ranch. When he died, he had just concluded a cattle deal that included the sale of 24 tractor-trailer loads of Escalera cattle.
Gerald was a devout Christian who credited the Lord for any successes he had enjoyed in life.
He was a member of Associated General Contractors of America and was twice elected president of the association’s San Antonio chapter. He was a member of Associated Builders and Contractors and the Builders’ Exchange of Texas. He was also a member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers’ Association and the National Cattlemen’s Association.
His survivors include his beloved wife of 60 years, Randa Jean of San Antonio; his beloved children, Gerald D. Lyda Jr. of San Antonio, Gene Lyda of Fort Stockton, and Eunita Jo Granberg of Seymour. Grandchildren include Brett Lyda of Pasadena, Calif., Justin Granberg of Muddleberry, Ind., Holly Jo Granberg of Ada, Okla., Jene’ Asel of San Antonio, Leah Lyda of Austin, and Gerald D. (Trey) Lyda and Ryan Holt Lyda, both of Atlanta, Ga.
Visitation took place in the chapel of the Fort Stockton Funeral Home on Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
A lunch was served at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17, in the First Baptist Church of
Fort Stockton, followed by a funeral service at 1 p.m. in the church sanctuary.
Interment took place at La Escalera Ranch, 20 miles south of Fort Stockton on the Marathon Highway.
Serving as pallbearers were Greg Carrasco of Las Cruces, N.M.; Jim Kollman of Odessa; David Tipton of Balmorhea; Glenn McCorkle of Fort Stockton; Jesse King of Fort Stockton; and Mack Williams of San Antonio.
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