Systems Engineer | Chattanooga, Tenn.
“I’m a veteran of the Navy, civil engineer corps—a servant of the public trust. I am very proud to have served my country. I’m blessed to live in the Valley. I’ve served at TVA 45 years.”
In 1970, Richard M. Nixon was in the White House. Gas was 40 cents a gallon, and you could buy a shiny new Dodge for only $1,800. That’s also the year that John Lytle, military veteran of the Seabees (the U.S. Navy Construction Forces), accepted a job with TVA.
“I was born in Akron, Ohio, served in the Navy, worked in aerospace technology on the Gemini and Apollo moon landing missions,” says Lytle. “And then decided I wanted a career in public service. One of my many life blessings has been the opportunity to serve our public trust by working at TVA.”
Lytle, a systems engineer in Power Ops, does on-site inspections; plans and designs tests; repairs and upgrades programs; serves on technical plant teams; and provides 24/7 trouble-shooting tech support for TVA’s fossil plants. He lives in Chattanooga, but admits he isn’t found at home very often since he travels almost constantly between facilities.
In his 45th year of service with TVA, Lytle is working hard to wrap up a long and busy career.
“My career has been a humbling experience from the beginning—to be allowed to serve with other employees and to serve the public trust,” Lytle says. “I feel thankfulness and appreciation for the opportunity and the honor of serving. We stand on the shoulders and efforts and sacrifices of those who paved the way, made the paths and served our country and our people before us. We’re the recipients of their work, vision and efforts.
“Now, we have a mission—to pass it forward—to leave behind more than we take from our land, our people and our planet,” he says. “That’s the legacy I want to leave, and the legacy we should all strive to leave. This is stewardship—first of all, to do no harm. And then to protect and conserve our natural resources and leave our footprints in a positive manner.”
In 2013, Shawnee Fossil Plant honored Lytle by naming a road at the plant after him. “John Lytle Alleyway” is located near the baghouses, which catch the particulate matter before it goes out from the stacks. This is fitting—in his decades at TVA, Lytle has worked with and helped train and develop the engineering, operations and maintenance teams that led the effort to reduce air emissions at TVA’s coal plants.
At the dedication, Shawnee management called Lytle “a TVA legend.” Although he’s received a number of awards and honors in his long career, Lytle chuckles at being called a legend.
“My recognition represents the many people who have served TVA at our coal-fired fossil plants. I stand with them and am honored to be in their presence,” he says.
“I have total confidence that my role will be fulfilled in an even more improved manner by the many excellent younger technical and maintenance and operations persons working in TVA today. One of my greatest joys is being allowed to assist in the mentoring and training of these younger folks. A goal of mine has been to ensure I will not be missed,” says Lytle, “and I know that goal has been achieved with the fine young employees of TVA.”
Lytle is the first to admit that work is his life. He doesn’t spend a lot of time hunting, fishing, camping, playing golf or doing anything else one might think he’d enjoy at this stage of his life. He delights in his children and grandchildren, and his focus on family will continue. His TVA family will also continue to be in his thoughts always.
“The elder must make space for the younger,” he says, “so now my commitment to them means I must leave TVA.
“But I won’t retire to the rocking chair—I’m going to keep busy. You can be sure of that.”
Meet more TVA employees, and learn about some of the fascinating ways they serve the Tennessee Valley through their work in energy, environmental stewardship and economic development.
They’re your friends, your family, your neighbors. Get to know them.