Lelve Garland Gayle, DVM
April 29, 1940 ~ August 6, 2017
Lelve Gayle was born in Weldon, Texas to Ben and Annie Mae Gayle. He peacefully passed from this life surrounded by his loving family to begin eternal life with his Heavenly Father on Sunday, August 6th, at the age of 77. Lelve married his childhood sweetheart, Melody Robinson in 1959. They were blessed with a beautiful family. Lelve became a Christian at a young age. He and Melody attended A&M Church of Christ for over 40 years. Lelve lived an amazingly full life. All who knew him were inspired by his kind, giving spirit as well as his positive outlook. Many sought his advice because of his clear vision, wisdom, and integrity.
Lelve is survived by his wife, Melody, his son Dr. Justin Gayle and wife Marilyn, and their children Shelby (and husband Justin Mullinnix), Gentry, and Brady, his daughter Julie Baker and husband Keith, and their children Colton and Caleb, and his daughter Meleah Steelman and her children Lilly and Zane--who all live locally. Lelve is also survived by two sisters--Gaye Cecil of Crockett, Texas and Evelyn Coleman and husband Bill of Plano, Texas and their sons John and Jeff and family.
After graduating from Lovelady High School, Lelve enrolled in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M. He is a 1964 graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University. After graduation, Dr. Gayle served in the U.S. Air Force as the Dyess Air Force Base veterinarian overseeing the Century Dogs. His military service was followed by a period of 10 years in private veterinary practice. In 1976, Dr. Gayle joined the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL). He served as Case Supervisor, as Head of Diagnostic Services, and as Executive Director--having been appointed to this position in 2002. While serving as Case Supervisor, Dr. Gayle earned his Master of Science Degree in Veterinary Toxicology from Texas A&M. As Executive Director of the Diagnostic Lab, Dr. Gayle oversaw major upgrades in the laboratory’s capabilities including new space for high consequence animal disease testing and a mobile laboratory facility. These improvements made it possible for unprecedented in-field diagnosis of rapidly infectious animal diseases that threatened the nation’s livestock industry. His tenure as Executive Director also included overseeing diagnostic facilities in Amarillo, Center, and Gonzales, Texas. In this role he directed one of the largest, busiest veterinary diagnostic laboratory systems in the world. Under his leadership, the Texas Diagnostic Laboratories improved the field of veterinary toxicology at a local, state, national and international level. His expertise in diagnosing large animal infectious disease was sought out worldwide.
Dr. Gayle served as president of the Texas Academy of Veterinary Practice in 1985, after which he went on to hold every executive leadership position in the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, including his service as TVMA President in 1996. He has received numerous recognitions including the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (1988), the Vice Chancellor Award in Excellence (1994), the Regents Fellow Service Award (1999), and the Texas Poultry Federation Distinguished Service Award (2007). Dr. Gayle was also named as a Distinguished Member of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association and as Associate Vice Chancellor and Executive Director Emeritus at Texas A&M University in 2007. Finally in 2013, he was recognized as an Outstanding Alumni of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences with Texas A&M University. He was honored with an endowed scholarship in his name by Dr. and Mrs. Cocanougher. Dr. Gayle loved and was dedicated to his co-workers and his work as a liaison between veterinarians and diagnosticians. His goal was to ensure that veterinarians, especially throughout the state of Texas, were receiving high quality, collaborative care as they worked directly with Texas cattle ranchers.
While his work as a veterinarian was both distinguished and influential, his service to others was his lifelong passion. He served as academic advisor for the Texas A&M Corp of Cadets, Company D-2. In this role, he received one of his most treasured accomplishments, Outstanding Faculty Academic Advisor. As their advisor, Company D-2 received the General Moore Outstanding Unit Award naming the Dogs the top unit in the Corp. Dr. Gayle held back tears as the entire company marched from the main building on campus to present him with a personal award for his leadership in helping the D-2 Unit achieve their goals.
Dr. Gayle was lovingly known by his grandchildren as their “Opa”. There was no venture too great or small that he would not tackle for them. This included yearly hunting and camping trips where he established the distinguished outfit affectionately known as the “Whistle Brigade”. Opa was a man of strict rules and high expectations but on one fateful camping trip the Whistle Brigade relentlessly begged him to bring home the puppy that wandered in their campsite at Ratcliff Lake. His answer all week was a resounding --no! When their Oma showed up and fell in love with the little scrappy puppy he was outnumbered. He finally relented on one condition, he would not tie him up, and if he ran off there would be no search party. “R.C.” became Opa’s daily partner in his retirement and did not leave his side during his final days. Opa was an avid outdoorsman and he fostered his love and respect for the outdoors in his grandchildren. One of his favorite pastimes throughout his life was horseback riding. He spent countless hours saddling, leading, and teaching his grandchildren to ride his beloved horse Peaches. Opa was a man of many talents including tree climbing, catching armadillos bare-handed, cooking “cowboy breakfast” over an open fire and even reviving a baby calf with CPR. In his children and grandchildren’s eyes, there was nothing he could not do. He was their hero, and he created memories and traditions that will be passed on to many future generations.
Visitation will be at Hillier Funeral Home on Highway 6 South-- Friday, August 11th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The Celebration of Life Service for Dr. Gayle will be at A&M Church of Christ in College Station, Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. with a graveside service at College Station Aggie Field of Honor immediately following.
Memorial contribution checks can be made to the “Texas A&M Foundation for the Dr. Lelve Gayle Endowed Scholarship” and mailed to the “Office of the Dean, Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, 4461 TAMU College Station, Texas 77843-4461.”