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Devin Kyles: A life of helping and heartfelt connections

Devin Cornell Kyles, born and reared in Memphis, lived his life with a simple yet profound purpose – to help others.

His journey on this earth spanned 60 years, and he dedicated most of that time to the service of those in need. Devin’s passing occurred near Interior, South Dakota after battling ongoing health challenges.

As the son of Gwendolyn Kyles and the late civil rights icon the Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, the late renowned pastor of Monumental Baptist Church, Devin grew up with a deep sense of purpose instilled in him by his family.

He was just 6 years old when tragedy struck as his parents were preparing to host dinner for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on the night Dr. King was assassinated while standing on the balcony at the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968.

Devin’s academic journey led him to excel at Memphis’ Bellevue Junior High and Central High schools. His academic prowess secured his early admission to Lake Forest College in Illinois.

As a junior, his leadership skills resulted in his election as Student Government president. His passion for technology ignited during a summer internship at IBM, setting the stage for a lifelong love of computer technology.

Devin’s commitment to service extended to the U.S. Army, where he graduated from Officer Candidate School as a Second Lieutenant and joined the Intelligence division.

He thrived in high-pressure, secretive military environments and rose to the rank of captain.

After an honorable discharge, his career led him into the world of technology ventures in Oklahoma and Connecticut.

However, Devin’s heart called him back to Memphis, where he answered his father’s call to assist with Monumental Baptist Church and community real estate projects.

He took charge of restructuring the church’s finances, strengthening management practices at Monumental Pride Homes, and championing the Clinton administration’s New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) program as a tool for rebuilding neighborhoods in the poorest parts of the city.

Devin’s dedication also reached beyond Memphis. His introduction to the Lakota tribal leaders on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota marked the beginning of a 25-year commitment to their community.

His charisma and genuine connection with people allowed him to become a beacon of hope for the reservation, where he worked tirelessly to create job opportunities and build a brighter future.

In his later years, Devin returned to Memphis to care for his ailing father, Rev. Billy Kyles, during his final years. He embraced his role as a loving, patient caregiver, providing comfort not only to his family but also to the church community.

Even after his father’s passing in 2016, Devin continued to support Monumental Baptist Church’s operations and rebuilding efforts.

Devin is survived by his siblings: Dwain Kyles (Florida), Dwania Kyles (New York), Drusheena Kyles (Tennessee) and Epernay Kyles (Washington, D.C.); a niece, Ashli Kyles, and nephews Ramsey Kyles, Chad Kyles, and Taylor Kyles, along with many relatives and friends across the nation.

 

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