In Memorium B.C. Pyle
I received a troubling email late on April 29, 2015. Steven Pyle, a workers’ compensation attorney for many years, wrote to let me know of the passing of his father, B.C. Pyle.
He noted that I may not have known his father, who retired in 1994. I regret that I did not know him. On reading the email, I immediately noticed that he retired in 1994. It seems like several attorneys I knew either retired or moved away from workers’ compensation in 1994. The special session in 1993 created a new world of litigation in Florida workers’ compensation. I don't know if that played a role in his retirement, but it is intersting to have two eras concluding simultaneously like that.
According to Steven, B.C. Pyle practiced law from November of 1958 until April of 1994. Thirty-six years is a fairly long time. I cannot comprehend the changes he witnessed in the Orlando community during his life. In 1960 there were 400,000 people in Orlando, compared to over two million today. There was no University of Central Florida in 1958. There was no Disney World, Universal Studios, or Sea World. There was an Air Force base there, ten miles out in the country, called McCoy Field. When the Air Force closed that in the 1970s, it was redeveloped into Orlando International Airport. Yes, a great deal has changed during the lifetime of B.C. Pyle in the community in which he chose to practice and raise a family.
He practiced with Whitaker, Pyle and Wood which became Whitaker, Pyle, Stump and Webster in Orlando before forming the firm of B.C. Pyle, which later became Pyle, Jones and Hurley, and is today Jones, Hurley and Hand. He practiced workers' compensation before Deputy Commissioners, Judges of Industrial Claims, the Florida Industrial Relations Commission, the Judges of Compensation Claims, and the various courts. He witnessed a great deal of change in Florida workers' compensation.
Almost 50 years ago, in 1968, B.C. Pyle represented the appellant in Lee Engineering v Fellows. It is difficult to find a Florida workers’ compensation practitioner who is unfamiliar with Lee Engineering.
According to Steven, B.C. "was an Oklahoma Sooner. He was married to the same woman, my mother, for almost 61 years." B.C is survived by his wife, Steven, Steven’s two brothers, three daughters in law and 8 grandchildren.
Steven noted that B.C. helped shape a lot of Florida’s Workers’ Compensation law over his career. He said “I have enjoyed a wonderful reputation through his name. There are many things I could say about my father. Relevant to the Work Comp community I know he will be remembered as an honorable gentleman and formidable opponent. He was a loving father and husband. My family and I miss him greatly.”
I know that many have already reached out to Steven and his family in this time. I am touched that he took the time to communicate this sad news to me and am honored to pass this news on to the workers’ compensation community.
As I age, it becomes increasingly apparent to me that all we are and all we can be is built on the foundation of those that came before us. We enjoy much through the work of others. We get caught up in the day-to-day, and the grind of litigation takes its toll. At the end of the day, when one reflects, is there anything better for which one could be remembered than being an "honorable gentleman" or lady?
Florida workers' compensation has lost a legend. I am sorry that I did not know him, but I am thankful for the foundations that he and so many others laid. I am hopeful that his family finds comfort in this time. If you get a chance, reach out to Steven and let him know your thoughts and remembrances.
Do you know a workers' compensation legend? Is there someone that mentored or guided you as a young lawyer, who has since retired? Do you ever think that they might someday be gone? Why not pick up the phone today and re-connect; take time from the grind of litigation and take an old friend to lunch. Let them know today what they meant to you. You do not know when it will be too late.