Guest column: Yost family plays great role in Aspen Chapel’s history
Bishop E.M. Yost was the original envisionary of the Aspen Chapel. Lyle Yost was E.M. Yost’s nephew and the original financier of the Aspen Chapel. They were both very innovative — E.M. with his unique vision of an interfaith chapel and Lyle with his invention that revolutionized the harvesting of wheat.
In 1947, Lyle Yost created the “rotating unloading auger.” For those of you who may not know what that is but have undoubtedly seen one, it is a long metal shaft that extends upward from the combine to deposit harvested wheat in a large truck driving alongside the combine in the field. Apparently there is a limited amount of time when the wheat is ready for harvest. The rotating unloading auger allowed the combine to keep going without stopping, making the harvesting of wheat more efficient by eliminating any waste of wheat. This innovation, along with many other creative farm implements, gave rise to the Hesston Corporation in Hesston, Kansas.
Lyle Yost’s motivation was to serve the farmer. Lyle was known to fly his “tail-dragging” Cessna from field to field to solve any farm implement problems at the customer’s farm. Because of his personal service and creativity, Hesston Corporation became a very successful company. The town of Hesston had a population of about 1,500 people, while Hesston Corporation in its “hay day” employed about 3,000 people. Lyle served on numerous boards, both profit and nonprofit.
Hundreds of articles have featured the life of Lyle Yost, including Fortune and Forbes magazines and the New York Times. He also has been the recipient of many awards and accolades as a result of his generosity. Lyle was named Kansan of the Year and later admitted to the Kansas Hall of Fame in 2006, along with his personal friend William Lear. Lyle also graduated from his Cessna 120 to the company’s Lear Jet. Hesston Corporation eventually faced challenges during a period of time when many farms throughout the country were struggling. Lyle retired in 1986 and sold the company to the Italian automaker Fiat.
Lyle Yost was very charitable to many organizations and educational institutions. He provided the means for his uncle’s vision for the “Aspen Chapel of the Prince of Peace” to become a reality. Lyle continued his involvement with the Aspen Chapel as chairman of the Chapel’s Board of Trustees from its inception to his death April 5, 2012. He lived to be 99 years old. Today Lyle’s son, Cameron Yost, currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Aspen Chapel.
Lyle Yost and his wife Erma were wonderful people. Erma played a role in advocating the open and ecumenical role of the Aspen Chapel. They were humble and kind, gracious and generous.
Lyle led a very active life but would still call me just about every month for 36 years to see how things were going at the chapel.
Bishop E.M. Yost and Chairman Lyle Yost led lives epitomizing the purposes of the Aspen Chapel; that of compassionate caring, creative spirituality, innovative programming, community service and proponents of living peace.
Aspen Chapel is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and is writing a monthly column on the first Sunday of the month in 2019. Rev. Gregg Anderson is the Chaplain Emeritus.