Workers’ Rights, SNCC and School Integration Ally Dies

There are always those Iliffians I wish I had known. Conard  “Con” G. Pyle (July 26, 1928 – September 21, 2016) is one of them. The following obituary, provided by his son, David Pyle, shows that Con Pyle embodied a commitment to enriching the lives of everyone he met.

Con Pyle passed away at the age of 88 in the presence of family on September 21. Having come to the Grand Junction community in 1974 as lead Pastor with First Congregational Church, Con served the Western Slope community in countless ways. After leaving First Congregational, Con served as staff Chaplain with the Grand Junction VA hospital, managed a pastoral counseling services for families working to overcome domestic violence, and founded Men Against Domestic Violence, an organization working to end domestic abuse in the Grand Valley.

Con was born in Marshall, Indiana, growing up Quaker with two brothers, Kenneth and Herman, on a family farm. He played basketball, raised his share of ribbon-winning cattle, and graduated from Earlham College. Con, along with his wife, Wini, moved to Colorado in 1950 to attend Illiff Seminary in Denver. He fell in love with the Colorado outdoors, beginning what became a lifelong passion for hunting and fishing.

He was ordained in the United Church of Christ and served his first church, Community Congregational in Walsenburg, Colorado. From there, Con moved to Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, where he served the Church in the Wildwood. Con and his family moved to Denver in 1965 to serve as pastor with Christ Congregational Church. During that time, Con became active in a number of social issues, working to support worker rights in the Hispanic community in Southwest Denver. In 1966, he travelled to Mississippi with a group of clergy to support students with SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) in working to end segregation and other discriminatory practices. During his time in Denver, both Con and his wife, Wini, were actively involved in the school integration movement.

Con and family moved to Grand Junction in early 1974 to serve First Congregational Church and to begin his years of service in the Grand Valley. His marriage with Wini ended in 1976 – although they remained in touch through the rest of their lives in coordinating the care of their disabled son, Tony, at the Grand Junction Regional Center. Con remarried with Jacqueline Pyle in 1978, a marriage that lasted until her death in 2007.

In his over 60 years of service across Colorado, he worked personally with thousands of individuals and families in helping them to find pathways to spiritual and personal health. He played a role in the social issues that shaped our region. His friends can attest to his robust sense of humor as well as his grace and kindness.

In his final years, Con remained active with First Congregational, singing in the church choir and continuing to serve his community in a variety of ways. He was proud of the stained glass window that he commissioned and had installed in the chapel during his time as a resident at Mesa View. In his final weeks, he found the strength to conduct a service from his wheelchair and to preach a sermon on one of his favorite themes – the immediacy and presence of Christ in our lives – with the residents of Eagle Ridge rehabilitation facility.

Con is survived by his three children – his son, Tony, of Grand Junction; daughter, Connie, of Grand Junction; son, David, and daughter-in-law, Tina, of Windsor, CO, and his grandchildren, Jordan and Christopher.

The hearts and prayers of the Iliff Community are with the family of Con Pyle.

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