Saturday, July 25, 2009

Obituary: William Penn Lyon, Jr. - Class of 1877

From the San Jose Mercury Herald of November 14, 1931

William Penn Lyon, business manager of the Mercury Herald (San Jose, California) for more than a quarter century and one of the best known newspaper executives on the coast, died suddenly at O'Connor sanitarium yesterday of a heart attack.

Mr. Lyon had been in ill health for the past two years. Three weeks ago he was removed to the O'Connor sanitarium for a complete rest, and appeared to be recovering his strength.

Born in Racine, Wisconsin August 23, 1861, the son of Chief Justice and Mrs. William Penn Lyon, as a lad he went with his family to Madison, Wisconsin, when his father was elevated to the supreme bench. He received his primary education in Madison schools and then entered the University of Wisconsin, from he he graduated with the class of 1881. Later, he graduated from the law school also.

Following his graduation he was employed by the Chicago Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad at their head offices at Milwaukee. Later he became associated with E.A. and J.O. Hayes, publishers of the Mercury Herald, then young attorneys in their law business in Ashland, Wisconsin.

Possessing unusual ability in financial matters, Mr. Lyon next joined with the Hayes brothers in their mining operations in Northern Michigan and Wisconsin, and for several years had charge of the office and financial work of the firm.

Shortly before the turn of the century he came to California and later married Miss Ellen Chynoweth. Later the couple returned to the mines for a short time, returning again to California to make their permanent home. He acquired the fruit ranch on Monteroy road jsut south of Eden Vale, where he made his home, and where he has resided since.

Mr. Lyon helped to organize, and was for some years was manager of the Eden Vale Fruit company, which was later sold to the Sanitary Fruit company; the latter firm discontinued operations after running for a short time.

More than a quarter century ago Mr. Lyons became business manager of the Mercury Herald, a position he held up to his death. His wife died in February 1928.

Mr. Lyon is survived by his son, William Penn Lyon III; his sister Mrs. J.O. Hayes; and two grandchildren -- Patricia and William Penn Lyon IV.

He was a member of the Masonic Lodge, of Scottish Rite, Knights Templar, Rotary, San Jose Country and Commercial clubs, and of the True Life Church.

A keen business executive, and deeply interested in the newspaper business, he enjoyed an extensive friendship among the largest advertisers of the country. In pursuit of his duties he made annual trips to the eastern business centers, making contact with scores of prominent business men.

In June of this year (1931) Mr. Lyon enjoyed a visit to Madison, where he attended the fiftieth anniversary of his graduating class. He often spoke of the experience with enjoyment.

An enthusiastic golfer, and characterized by a gift for friendship, he had a wide circle of friends who thought of him with affection and esteem. His loss will be a great one.

Submitted by MRS. CLARA LYON HAYES and published in The Wisconsin Alumni Magazine (June 1932)

Note: William Penn Lyon Jr. is listed in the Madison Public Schools Annual Report (1901-1902) as a member of the Class of 1877.

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