By Irvin Himmel
“The long vigil is over. Nothing which we say or do today will either help or hinder the deceased. There was a time when we were able to lend assistance, and many did just that. But our loved one is now beyond our reach….” With these words the beloved preacher often began his re-marks at the funeral service for someone who had died following an extended period of illness.
Following a bout with pulmonary fibrosis, Granville W. Tyler reached the end of his earthly pilgrimage at his home in Decatur, Alabama, on April 13, 1996, being 87 years and seven months of age. He was preceded in death by his wife Frances on February 10, 1995.
Brother Tyler’s funeral service was conducted at the meeting house of the Somerville Road church in Decatur on April 16. A large gathering was in attendance, including many preachers of the gospel. Marvin Hale, one of the regular song leaders at Somerville Road and a close personal friend of Granville, made a few remarks and led the congregation in singing “Each Step I Take,” a song which Granville had requested for his funeral when he first heard brother Hale lead it years earlier. That song was followed by “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
This writer read the obituary, and made some personal observations about his association with brother Tyler over the past decade. The two of us conducted numerous funeral services together. One of his favorite themes when the funeral was for someone who had lived as a faithful Christian was the promises of God. He sometimes would begin with another line of thought but would switch to, or bring in something about, the Lord’s precious promises. When he spoke of those promises his eyes would flash, his voice would grow stronger, and he would show a special earnestness. Referring to such a promise as is given in 2 Corinthians 6:17,18, he would say, “Now isn’t that a wonderful promise!” Since brother Tyler was so highly successful as a preacher and influenced and encouraged so many others, I thought it appropriate to read Paul’s charge to Timothy as given in 2 Timothy 4:1-8. Prayer was offered after the scripture reading.
Al Bowers, another regular song leader at Somerville Road, led the assembly in the singing of “Nearer My God to Thee,” and “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand.” Eugene Britnell, a long-time acquaintance of brother Granville, spoke of some of his recollections and favorable impressions. He used a funeral sermon outline which he got from Granville. It is entitled “Paradoxes In Death,” and has five main points with two subheadings under each point. Here are the main points (the outline is self-explanatory):
1. Death is common yet rare.
2. Death is mysterious yet real.
3. Death is uncertain yet certain.
4. Death is separation yet a uniting.
5. Death is the end yet the beginning.
Brother Britnell paid fitting tribute to Granville Tyler for the influence which he exerted, his dedication to the truth, and the kind of man he was.
Allen Blaxton, another of Somerville Road’s song leaders, directed in the singing of “At the Cross.”
The main eulogy was delivered by Ed Bragwell who has known Granville Tyler for half a century. Both Bragwell and Britnell grew up in Franklin County, Alabama where Granville did local work on three different occasions and held many gospel meetings. Ed gave a biographical sketch of Tyler, and told of some of the humorous things associated with his life. Brother Tyler was a masterful story teller, and his stories about Simp Burleson and Thad Henley and others in his native Hickman County, Tennessee always brought much laughter. Ed mentioned Granville’s ability to reach the hearts of people by being an emotional man, yet his preaching was the book, chapter, and verse approach.
Following the singing of “Amazing Grace,” the service was dismissed. Burial was in Roselawn Cemetery, in Decatur, with Charles Littrell conducting the burial service. Littrell recalled that Granville would often say at the graveside, “Now we have gone as far as we can …”
Pallbearers were James Graham, Don Laney, Larry Parr, James Satterfield, Mike Watson, Marvin Hale, Bobby Jackon, Jimmy Nesmith, James Ray, Ralph Sheats, and Gale Montgomery, all members at Somerville Road, and Vernie Haley of Tuscaloosa, formerly a member at Somerville Road.
Guardian of Truth XL: 12 p. 8
June 20, 1996