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Lyle King

PRINCETON — Lyle King, 97, of Princeton passed away at Liberty Village in Princeton on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. He was surrounded by family and friends at his passing.

Lyle was born in Chenoa on March 10, 1919, to Jesse and Lula King.

Lyle was active in the Heart Association and the Cancer Society, and was a delegate to the Illinois Coaching Association. He was a past Bureau County commissioner.

Lyle coached several sports (football, track, basketball or wrestling) at Waverly, Chenoa and Princeton high schools. When he started the PHS wrestling program, he taught himself the sport and how to coach it as he was never a wrestler. At one time his football teams had the longest winning streak in Illinois High School football history. He was inducted into the Illinois High School Coaches Association Football Hall of Fame in 1981. He started the Princeton Invitational Wrestling Tournament, now the Lyle King Invitational, with a small handful of teams over 40 years ago. The tournament now attracts wrestlers from more than 30 teams and is recognized as one of the best Class A wrestling tournaments in the state.

As a high school biology teacher, he inspired many students to pursue careers in the sciences. He taught at the advent of DNA technology and was always excited by the new frontiers that the science of DNA would open.

During World War II, Lyle served in the Caribbean and South Pacific arenas. He married Johnnie Taylor Lanning in December 1946 and together they made a life in Princeton where they farmed for more than 60 years.

In addition to earning degrees from Illinois State and the University of Illinois, Lyle completed graduate credit at the University of Southern California, Arizona State University, the University of New Hampshire and Brandeis University.

Lyle valued hard work and fair play. Throughout his life as a teacher, coach and parent, he strove to instill these values in his students, athletes and children.

Lyle is survived by his wife of 70 years, Johnnie Louise; three children, Susan and her husband, James Smuda, of Albuquerque, N.M., Lyle B. of Atlanta, Ga., and Kenneth and his wife, Sandra Simpson, of Newton, Mass.; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Lyle was preceded in death by his parents, one sister and two brothers.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 18, at the First United Methodist Church in Princeton.

Memorials may be directed to the First United Methodist Church (Mission Possible) or the Princeton High School science department.

The Norberg Memorial Home in Princeton is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be left at

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