Lion of the Week

Lyon Tyler

Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr. was born in Stuart Circle Hospital in Richmond Virginia. He was the first baby born there in 1925 having been born on January 3rd. He is the son of Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Sr. who was a lawyer, an historian and President of William and Mary College. He is the grandson of John Tyler 10th President of the United States. President John Tyler had 15 children and Died in 1862. Lyon's father was born in 1853. His father had 6 children. (Click on father and grandfather names above.)

Lyon's wife's family bought a farm house in Williamson County in 1947. She was the former Lucy Jane Pope. She was the daughter of Barton Pope, a long time member of the Franklin Lions Club. Lucy and Lyon were married in 1958. When Lucy's parents died she and their daughter, Susan, inherited the farm so they came back to Williamson County to live. The farm was located on Clovercroft Road. Most of the farm has been sold to the Jones Company and is now part of The Villages at Clovercroft subdivision. There are still five acres with the old house. Right now Lyon is living in an apartment in Aspen Grove and the old house is being remodeled. They are adding about 1000 Sq. Ft. to the house. It will have about 4000 sq. ft. when they finish it.

Lyon finished High School at St. Christopher School in Richmond Va. He then went on to get an AB degree from the College of William and Mary. His degree was in Jurisprudence. After that he obtained a Law Degree from the prestigious U. of Virginia Law School.

During the first year out of Law School he was a law clerk for Judge Dobie of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. After that he was a practicing attorney in Richmond and in Charles City County, Virginia. He was the Commonwealth Attorney, which would be like the District Attorney General in Tennessee.

After about 10 years in law practice, Lyon was appointed as Director of the Virginia Civil War Centennial Commission where he served from 1959 to 1963. He drafted the Purposes of the Centennial and published a book titled "Virginia's Opportunity" on how to observe a Centennial. His book has been copied by many other states. Tennessee has recently purchased copies of that book.

During his service on the Centennial Commission Lyon produced movies, organized re- enactments, and many other programs to commemorate historical sites, events and people, and gave historical lectures throughout the state. In his talks and writings he emphasized that most of the men and women on both sides of the conflict made mistakes which led to the war. But many on both sides of the conflict served and fought with dedication and honor. He believed we should learn to emulate the courage, the devotion, and the love of God that our forefathers exhibited.

All these experiences caused him to seek a change in his career. He went back to school, attending Duke University and obtaining a PhD in History in 1967. He taught History at the University of Richmond, at Virginia Military Institute and taught at the Citadel for 20 years. He says he "got to build" the new VMI Museum and that Stonewall Jackson's horse, which was stuffed and preserved, is at that museum. The museum also contains mementos of Matthew Fontaine Maury, the pathfinder of the seas, who was born in Williamson County. Also there are mementos of General George C. Marshall and General George Patton.

Through much of this period, he and his wife were spending quite a bit of time in Tennessee because of her family and the family farm being here. Their primary home was in Charleston. His wife became ill and sought medical treatment at Vanderbilt Hospital. When her condition was diagnosed she went to the Mayo Clinic and was told she might have only two weeks to live. She lived for two years after that diagnosis and died in 2001.

They have a daughter, Susan, who is an interior designer. Susan obtained a degree from Oral Roberts University and then obtained an Interior Design Degree from the University of Tennessee. Although at the very moment she is traveling in Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia she is designing the remodeling of the old family home at 4085 Clovercroft Road. The home was first built about 1910.

Lyon was an active member of the Lions Club in Charleston since the early 1970s. He was very active there, serving on the Board of Directors. The club met only a block from his home. That club did a lot of work on the streets. The club would ring the bells for the Salvation Army, as one example. In that club you got fined if you wore the wrong color coat, or if you had an article printed about you in the newspaper. That was called "advertising".

Lyon often visited the Franklin Lions Club when he and his wife were visiting here with her parents. Up to the year 2000 they were going back and forth between Tennessee and Charleston.

During WWII, Lyon served in the U.S. Navy. He was in the Navy V-12 program. He was an Engineering Officer and a Navigator on an LCI in the Amphibious Navy. He was in the Philippines, in Okinawa and in China but never saw any combat. He says that whenever they would get to a potential battle site the Japanese had already left. Lyon continued to serve in the Naval Reserve until his recent retirement. During his Naval Reserve enlistment, Lyon served in Naval Intelligence. That required him to keep closely abreast of events in Latin America.

Lyon is a faithful member of the Lions Club whose impressive biography clearly illustrates our need to get to know each other better.