In six years with the Fort Pierce, Fla., Police Department, she’d worked her way from patrol officer to detective and was respected for her willingness to tackle fleeing criminals. Slated for promotion to sergeant, Lyles augmented her income by moonlighting at a hospital and power plant, providing a comfortable life for her sons, Jerome Smith and Jevon Castrillo.
After coaxing soft-spoken, handsome police dispatcher Lorne Lyles to join the force in 1997, she married him three years later and made his sons, Justin and Jordan, her own. But last fall, after Lorne spotted an ad for job openings on a United Airlines web site, CeeCee walked away from police work and, on Oct. 11, 2000, fulfilled a lifelong goal.
“She’d always wanted to be a flight attendant so she could travel,” said Lorne Lyles, 31, now a police officer in Fort Myers, Fla. “After years of police work, her kind heart got tired of seeing the sad part of the job.”
CeeCee grew up in Fort Pierce and raised her sons on her own until she married Lorne in May 2000 and later moved to Fort Myers. Emulating her mother and aunts, she never took welfare, instead working two or three jobs while volunteering at Restoration House, a Christian women’s shelter that two of her aunts founded in Fort Pierce.
“CeeCee was a role model, showing women they could make their own way without leeching off the system,” said her aunt, Mareya Schneider. “In the last few years, she really dedicated herself to the Lord and she would use Scripture to explain that if you don’t work, you don’t eat.”
Easygoing and athletic, with a trademark warm grin, CeeCee spent free time tending to her blended family, playing softball and baseball and helping with police programs for children.
Moments before Flight 93 went down, CeeCee dialed home twice on a cell phone to tell Lorne of the hijacking and of her love for him and their boys. Calmly, she prayed to see her husband’s face again, then beseeched God to forgive and welcome her home — along with everyone else on the plane.
“My wife was a strong God-fearing woman who loved her family. She meant the world to me,” Lorne Lyles said. “It’s hard to figure out what to do next without her.”