Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr., who died Sept. 26 at 95, might well have been sent down from central casting when the call went out for a Virginia Gentleman of the Old School.
Born in Richmond and raised largely at Sherwood Forest, his family’s 18th-century estate along the James River, Tyler attended St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, and the University of Virginia law school in Charlottesville. His tenure at William and Mary was interrupted by World War II, in which he served as a naval officer in the Pacific. He stayed on in the Naval Reserve, rising to the rank of commander, and after UVA, he clerked for a federal appeals court judge. He practiced law for some years and was elected commonwealth’s attorney in his ancestral Charles City County.
Then, his path took a measured, if perhaps predictable, detour: In 1960, he was appointed as the director of the