The annual Lyons Christmas Parade is this weekend and a longtime local business owner will be honored as grand marshal. Steve Gillespie of Doyle Welding, is grand marshal for the parade that kicks off at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Eighty-five years — That’s how long Doyle Welding has been providing services to the Lyons community. Now, the family-owned business is officially closing up shop.
Doyle Welding started as Lyons Oil Company in 1938 by Forrest Gillespie, along with his business partner, Roy Tom. It started as a gas station and fuel delivery service and the original building was located where The State Bank & Trust sits in Lyons today. Together they ran the business until Forrest’s death in 1955.
In 1956, Doyle Gillespie partnered with Roy Gephart to buy the gas station and renamed the business Lyons Oil Garage. In 1968, Doyle became the sole owner by buying Roy Gephart’s share of the business and changed the name to Doyle Welding.
In 1976, Doyle Welding was moved from the original location to 414 W. Morenci St., where it sits today.
In 1994, Steve Gillespie bought the business when his dad retired. Doyle continued to work alongside his son until his death in 2006.
With 85 years of operating a family-owned small business here in Lyons, members of the Gillespie family said they are grateful for the support of the community. Through the years there have been ups and downs with history and economic factors defining what it means to be a business owner in small town America, but as a staple of the Lyons landscapes, Doyle Welding has closed its doors.
Steve has toyed with retirement for a few years, exploring options of selling the building to the right buyer. Last week, the papers were signed to turn over the building to another small business owner in Lyons. Gillespie selling the building and land where Doyle Welding once sat to someone local was important for the community.
While current family members were not present to know for sure how it started, they said they do know it’s ending just as it should.
The Christmas Parade is another family legacy, as Gillespie’s mother established and coordinated it for many years until her death in 1997. It is a huge honor for the family as this community (and family legacy) ends and Steve Gillespie ushers in the next stage of his life to enjoy his retirement with his wife.