On Nov. 2, the Choctaw Nation held a public memorial service for Chief Greg Pyle, who passed away on Oct. 26. The service, held at the Choctaw Nation Event Center in Durant, drew a large crowd, including chiefs and tribal leaders from other nations. Chief Pyle’s family and many close friends were also in attendance.
The service began with the Posting of the Colors by the Choctaw Nation Color Guard, followed by “The Lord’s Prayer” performed by the Choctaw Nation Princesses and Brad Joe. Layne Heitz then read Chief Pyle’s obituary for the crowd, and Logan Cates offered the opening prayer. An ensemble of 85 elders gathered on stage to perform Choctaw hymns 53 and 112. Many in the crowd sang along.
Gov. Bill Anoatubby of the Chickasaw Nation gave the first of three eulogies. He spoke of his decades-long friendship with Chief Pyle and reflected on the many times they worked together to solve problems. Governor Anoatubby praised Chief Pyle’s efforts to support the rights of Native Americans and his family-first approach to governing. Just before closing, Anoatubby said, “I truly miss him. I’ll miss him for the rest of my life.”
Chief Pyle’s family requested that the entire crowd join together to sing the first verse of “Amazing Grace” before the family’s pastor, Jared Hyatt gave the second eulogy. Hyatt spoke mainly of the mission work he had done with Chief Pyle, including time they spent in Nicaragua. Hyatt also shared stories of Chief Pyle’s generosity and selflessness, including one instance where he purchased beds for sick children in a hospital in Nicaragua when there weren’t enough. “Greg was a leader. He was a leader because he loved and served,” Hyatt said in closing.
The final eulogy was given by Chief Gary Batton, who spoke of Chief Pyle as a mentor and a friend. Batton, who served under Pyle as Assistant Chief, told stories that highlighted Pyle’s sense of humor and warmth. He also emphasized many of Chief Pyle’s accomplishments in office and spoke directly to Pyle’s family, promising to help with any outstanding needs they have during their time of mourning.
Batton’s eulogy was followed by a slide show of pictures from Chief Pyle’s life and a closing prayer by Chaplain Olin Williams. Officers from the Choctaw Nation Color Guard then presented the family with the American flag that covered Chief Pyle’s casket. Finally, Chief Batton signaled the Retrieval of the Colors, which was followed by the departure of Chief Pyle’s casket, carried by pall bearers Sidney Lewis, Edward McCurry, Fred Booth, Lyndol Wren, Donald Henson, Frank A. Deal, Dock Dill and James Dry. Honorary pall bearers included David Harmon, Suzanne Heard, Newton Caldwell, Andy Feco, Bill Blankenship and Joe Christie.