Donald Eugene Anthony Lyons, age 89, of Vero Beach, FL, Simsbury, CT, and Charlestown, RI, passed away on February 26, 2019, in Vero Beach, cradled in the arms of his loving wife, Catherine Healy, and all eight of his children. “Don” was born in the Bronx, NY, to the late Mary and James Lyons, the oldest of five children. He graduated from Cardinal Hayes HS in NY, and in 1951, he received a B.S. in Marine Engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY. Following graduation he joined Combustion Engineering where he was involved in the sales, manufacturing and operation of nuclear and fossil equipment worldwide, rising to the position of President of the Power Systems Group at the time of his retirement in 1987.
During his career and retirement, he engaged in the leadership of various professional organizations and served on various boards which included Gilbert Associates, Canisco Resources, the Atomic Industrial Forum and the Institute of Nuclear Power and an Australian Subsidiary of CE. He served as Trustee at the Hartford Graduate Center, Western New England College and the US Merchant Marine Academy. He applied his leadership skills to direct a $2M Waterfront Campaign at Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy. His dedication there was honored with the naming of “Lyons Landing”, an officer’s club at the Sailing Center.
Described by neighbors and friends as generous, sweet and outgoing, he was very engaged in community and church life. He was a devoted member of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach and St. Catherine of Siena in Simsbury. Always an active member of the Knights of Columbus, he served as Grand Knight of the Bishop Nilan Council. Through the church, together with his wife, Cathy, they adopted the Nuygen family, Vietnamese refugees. They maintained a long term relationship, maybe he thought eight kids wasn’t enough.
In Simsbury he served on the Board of Education, the Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement and the Town Bicentennial Commission. In Vero, he served on the Boards of the Sea Cove Condo Association where he resided and Vero Beach Yacht Club where he always enjoyed entertaining family and friends. Although a member of The Hartford Golf Club for twenty-five years, his only hole in one was at the Dunes Course in Vero Beach.
During his early retirement, he purchased two businesses in Charlestown, RI - Ocean House Marina and Pat’s Power Equipment, which he enjoyed watching his sons build to success.
Don’s work at Combustion taught him a love of travel. He enjoyed twelve trips to Ireland where he focused on genealogy, tracing the Lyons and Healy family roots. He loved the West of Ireland, hiked the hills of the Burren and Aran Islands with his four daughters and played golf at many venues with his four sons.
As a hobbyist, Don loved home improvements and filming his family. Keeping up with technology, he finally edited fifty years of home movies in a series of dvd’s known as, “The Lyons Family Chronicles”. As the family patriarch, King of the Lyons Pride, he attended every annual family reunion since their inception in 1976. His love for family was intense as was exhibited in rotating his wardrobe of collegiate golf shirts and hats representing each of his grandchildren, making sure he wore the correct one for visits and game day even if it meant changing three times in a day. In these later days he passed his time side by side with Catherine doing the Jumble, tracking the stock market, walking, playing scrabble prior to the 5 o’clock cocktail, and writing purposefully-selected birthday cards to his entire Lyons Clan.
He is preceded in death by his parents, James and Mary, his brothers John and Jim and his sister Marita Lyons Walker.
Donald is survived by his beautiful wife Catherine Healy, his eight children: Cathy (the late Robert H.) Robertson, Robert (Pam), Donald Christopher (Sandy), Mary Ellen (Harold) Mullins, Patrick (Tammy), Janet (J. Michael) Foote, Barbara (Douglas) Coppens, and Michael; his eighteen grandchildren, four great grandchildren, his sister Gladys Sheehan and a full clan of beloved in-laws and nieces and nephews.
A funeral mass will be held at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Simsbury on Saturday, March 9th at 11:00 am. In lieu of a visitation a Celebration of Life reception will be held at Hopmeadow Country Club at 12:30.
Memorial contributions can be made to The Connor Donohue Foundation http://www.donohuefellowship.org
or to the Healing Meals Project http://healingmealsproject.org
or to a charity of your choice.