The grandson of President John Tyler, who served as the country’s 10th commander-in-chief from 1841 to 1845, died last weekend at 95.
According to his obituary, Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr., died Sept. 26 in Franklin, Tennessee, 175 years after his grandfather left office. He was the son of Lyon Gardiner Tyler Sr., who was born in 1853 when his father, who was born in 1790, was 63. When Gardiner Jr. was born on Jan. 3, 1925, his father was 71. Both John Tyler and Lyon Gardiner Tyler Sr. remarried much younger women when they were older.
Tyler entered the College of William & Mary when he was 16, but his education was interrupted by World War II, in which he served as a naval officer in the Pacific. He eventually became a commander. He later returned to William & Mary, graduating in 1947 and going on to earn his law degree at the University of Virginia in 1949. He later earned a master’s degree in history from Duke University in 1965 and a Ph.D. in 1967.
“It was always his children who were his primary concern,” Tyler said of his grandfather during a 2010 speech at the Williamson County Library in Franklin, according to The Virginia Gazette. “In his letters to his many sons and daughters, the need for honesty is a regular refrain.”
“Being a presidential descendant, even as a boy, I didn’t want to hear any more about it,” he continued.
Tyler said a woman asked him when he was about three years old, “‘Little boy, are you going to be president when you grow up?’ ‘No, I’ll bite your head off,’ I said.” When she asked him, “What would you do with the bones?” he replied, “I’ll spit ‘em out.”
“Perhaps John Tyler wasn’t the greatest of presidents,” Tyler reflected. “He was a great man, a loving husband and father and was a servant of the people. You can’t beat that. Who knew the unknown president would be an example to us all (through his integrity)?”
Susan Selina Tyler, Tyler’s daughter, told The Virginia Gazette earlier this week, “Dad was a most loving and generous person. Many people said he had changed their life with his advice. He was very proud to be related to President Tyler, who he said was all about integrity.”
Tyler’s brother, Harrison Ruffin Tyler, is still alive and lives at Sherwood Forest Plantation, the former president’s estate in Richmond, Virginia, where he lived after his presidency until he died in 1862, a year into the Civil War.
CBS News visited Sherwood Forest Plantation to speak with Harrison Ruffin Tyler in 2018.
Tyler became the first vice president to assume office upon the death of the chief executive, in his case after President William Henry Harrison succumbed to pneumonia on April 4, 1841, just one month after his inauguration. A firm believer in Manifest Destiny, Tyler’s administration was perhaps most marked by the annexation of Texas.