Joseph Lyle Reynolds of Sioux Falls and formerly of Yankton, passed away peacefully among his dear family on September 14, 2023, amid the great care of the Ava’s House hospice team at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls following a full long life.
Friends and family are invited to celebrate his life with a 6 p.m. visitation and 7 p.m. celebration of life service followed by his favorite meal of the day – dessert. This will take place on Wednesday, September 20th at Goglin Funeral Home, Yankton.
Joe (sometimes known as Lyle, especially to his wife Betty) was born in Norfolk, Nebraska on May 21, 1927, to Joseph and Martha Reynolds and later moved to Yankton for most of his lifetime. He married Betty Lou Johnson of Yankton on August 21, 1955, and they have two sons, Randy and Jeff Reynolds, but lost an infant daughter at birth in between the two boys.
He attended school in Yankton but paused his high school experience at the end of his junior year to enlist in the United States Navy during World War II. His widowed mother had to sign permission papers for him to go shortly after his 17th birthday. Within a month he was in basic training and then assigned to the USS Pasig in the Pacific Fleet. The Pasig was one of only two desalination ships in the entire fleet, processing fresh water from sea water in support of naval operations in the Pacific effort against Japan. These formative years set the course for the rest of his life and he was honored to have served his country at that time. He was honorably discharged from active service in July of 1946 and then served in the U.S. Naval Reserve until 1955.
When the war ended Joe returned to Yankton to finish high school, graduating in the spring of 1947. He then began to build his career with AT&T and Western Electric, traveling across the northwestern United States to construct switchboard operations and microwave radio transmission towers in the expanding effort of turning “party line” telephone systems into individual consumer and business phone services. He really loved the jobs he was assigned to along with the crews he had the privilege to work with.
After Joe and Betty were married in 1955, they often traveled together during his job locations across the country including Vermillion, the Black Hills area, and a few years on a long-term project that landed them in Seattle before moving back to Yankton in advance of the birth of their first child, Randy.
Returning home brought a new opportunity working with his father-in-law’s roofing business, Tim Johnson Roofing. Later he was hired as an electrician with the State of South Dakota, joining the maintenance department at the Human Services Center (formerly known as the State Hospital). Again, he loved the work that he did and all of the guys on his crews over the years.
Joe also spent many years doing part-time work with his friend Mike Imig (and Mike’s extended family) servicing vending machines, jukeboxes, and installing sound systems in many area businesses. Any day with Mike & company was full of fun, and laughter – making for a lifetime of memories and stories that he loved to tell to anyone interested, especially his kids and grandchildren. Mike, his sons-in-law, and his daughters all remained dear friends for many, many years.
Joe’s career advancement with the State of South Dakota led to a position as a Field Representative for the Office of the State Engineer in Pierre where he worked on many state projects including the construction of the Dakota Dome in Vermillion, projects at the SD State Penitentiary, and the development of several boat launch ramps at Lewis and Clark Lake. He finished out his career as Physical Plant Director at the Human Services Center, where he led the maintenance crew until retiring in 1989. Even after retirement, he dabbled in servicing vending and lottery machines with his friend, Terry Fiedler, along with some used car swapping with his friend, Dick Schoenberger. He loved to stay busy and loved helping others solve various issues with electrical systems, air conditioners, dishwashers, and almost anything else mechanical.
All through his life he pursued his passion for restoring antique phones from many eras, with several actual working models in use in his own home and in the homes of others. His phone collection was substantial and full of variety. In recent years he began to pass on his phones to his children and grandchildren so that they could have a piece of something he cared about so much.
Also in retirement, Joe joined Betty on the regional craft show circuit, making intricate model airplanes out of aluminum cans. They also had many adventures with regional trips across the Midwest. As grandchildren came along, his attention turned toward these newest members of the family. He loved spending time with them and almost any gathering was worth celebrating with ample food and dessert. Even in his later years, he kept close tabs on his glucose levels in order to get a little ice cream at the end of each day.
Outside of work, Joe was very active in the local VFW, Elks Club, and as a Mason in the Scottish Rite Temple – recently completing his 60th year of membership. These fraternal gatherings were an important part of his life and he truly enjoyed the camaraderie. He was also a Cub Scout leader for both Randy and Jeff and was always involved in the annual Pine Wood Derby races and the Yankton Scout-O-Rama.
Joe’s church connections include Trinty Lutheran, Calvary Baptist, and smaller “church plant” congregations in recent years. Most recently he and Betty attended Redeeming Grace Bible Church. When mobility to church services became difficult, they became regular viewers of Pastor Harold Salem’s Christian Worship Hour broadcast from Aberdeen, SD.
After living through the recent “COVID years” Joe and Betty had the opportunity to move to Sioux Falls in the spring of 2023 to be closer to healthcare providers while living independently in their own home just across the street from their youngest son, Jeff and his family. Many memories were made here too, with gatherings for birthdays, summer holidays, and their 68th wedding anniversary on August 21st.
Among the things he loved were; a good meal followed by dessert, western movies & cop shows, presidential history, Irish music & old cowboy tunes, and many friends from work, church, and other connections – with a special shout-out to the memory of Bob & Jean Ann Gullickson and their three boys, whose friendship spanned many decades of evening card parties, card tricks, and traditional St. Patrick’s Day meals.
Beyond the many great friends and workmates, Joe loved his entire family – his wife, kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids! Joe’s memory lives on with his wife Betty of Sioux Falls; two sons, Randy (Tiffany Slate) Reynolds of Yankton and Jeff (Heidi) of Sioux Falls; four grandchildren: Shelby (Spencer) Hodge of Mission Hill, Josh Reynolds of Vermillion, Hannah (Logan) Erickson of Sioux Falls, and Sam Reynolds, also of Sioux Falls. Great-granddaughters include Danni & Oakley Hodge of Mission Hill, a bonus great-granddaughter “little Dani” of Yankton, and the recent new arrival of baby Sailer Erickson of Sioux Falls. His younger brother, Robert Reynolds and his wife Gladys also still remain in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Plus, many other nieces, nephews, and a few remaining cousins.
Those close family members who preceded Joe into eternity are his parents; older sister, Geraldine Johnson; a dear infant daughter; brother, Frank Reynolds; beloved brother-in-law & friend, Larry Remington, and most recently in June – his little sister, Mary Donna Schultz.
It has been a life well lived and for that, we are all grateful. Memorials can be dedicated to the Gideons International organization.