Susybelle Lyons

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Susybelle Wilkinson "Duke" Lyons
Born (1923-10-05)October 5, 1923
Shreveport, Caddo Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died July 31, 2007(2007-07-31) (aged 83)
Shreveport, Louisiana
Resting place
Forest Park East Cemetery in Shreveport
Alma mater

C. E. Byrd High School

Stephens College
University of Texas at Austin
Occupation Businesswoman, philanthropist
Political party
Republican
Religion Unitarian Universalist Church
Spouse(s) Divorced from Charlton H. Lyons, Jr.
Children

Susybelle L. Gosslee
Stafford Lyons
Charlton H. Lyons, III
Sally L. Wood
Laurie Wilkinson Lyons Walker
Marian L. McGoldrick
13 grandchildren

13 great-grandchildren
Parents

W. Scott Wilkinson

Margaret West Wilkinson
Relatives

Charlton Lyons (father-in-law)

Hall Lyons (brother-in-law)

Susybelle Wilkinson Lyons, sometimes known as Duke Lyons[1] (October 5, 1923 – July 31, 2007), was a socialite, businesswoman, and philanthropist in her native Shreveport, Louisiana, who was particularly active in the Family Violence Program of the Young Women's Christian Association.[2]

Background[edit]

Named for her maternal aunt, Susybelle West Church,[3] Lyons was one of two children of the former Margaret West (1898-1995) and W. Scott Wilkinson, a Shreveport attorney and businessman, originally from Coushatta in Red River Parish,[4] who was a Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Caddo Parish, a position which he held for one term from 1920 to 1924.[5] Her paternal grandfather, John Dallas Wilkinson (1867-1929), was also a lawyer, a delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1898, and the author of a book on the law and personal injuries. Her maternal great-grandfather, Nelson Jackson Scott, was a judge in Homer in Claiborne Parish in northwestern Louisiana.[3]

Susybelle Lyons graduated in 1940 from C. E. Byrd High School in Shreveport and then attended Stephens College, a women's institution in Columbia, Missouri.[6][7][8] She transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority.[9]

Lyons was the daughter-in-law of Charlton Lyons, often considered the "father" of the revived 20th century Louisiana Republican Party,[10] and Marjorie Hall Lyons (1895-1971), for whom the theater at United Methodist-affiliated Centenary College in Shreveport is named. In August 1944, at St. Bartholemew's Episcopal Church in New York City, Susybelle Wilkinson married Charlton Havard Lyons, Jr., a graduate of Yale University who was then stationed with the United States Army in Augusta, Georgia. That summer, Susybelle was living on Long Island, where her father, who had been an Army officer in World War I, was a colonel in World War II. The couple first resided in New Orleans, where Lyons, Jr., had been born on December 11, 1921 though he immediately moved with his parents to Shreveport, where he spent the majority of his life. After the war, the junior Lyons attended and graduated from Tulane University Law School. Like his father, he became a Shreveport oilman,[11] but a political Independent.[12] Between 1945 and 1956, Charlton and Susybelle had five daughters and one son, but the couple[11] later divorced.[9] Susybelle's brother-in-law, Hall McCord Lyons of Lafayette, was the Republican nominee for Louisiana's 3rd congressional district seat in 1966 and subsequently the American Independent Party choice for the United States Senate in 1972.[13]

Political, business, and philanthropic activities[edit]

Lyons was herself a delegate to the 1960 Republican National Convention, which met in Chicago to nominate the unsuccessful Nixon-Lodge ticket.[13] She was a contributor in 2003 and 2004 to the Republican National Committee[14] and to at least one Democrat, Buddy Roemer, upon Roemer's last election to Louisiana's 4th congressional district seat in 1986.[15] Roemer subsequently switched parties in 1991 while serving as governor of Louisiana.[16]

In 1996, Lyons served as the co-chairwoman with Marilyn S. Joiner, the director of marketing and public relations for the Willis-Knighton Health System in Shreveport,[17] of the YWCA's $1.1 million capital campaign drive.[2] Lyons was a patron of the arts: the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1948, of which Hall Lyons was once the president;[18] the Shreveport Opera, which has hosted Beverly Sills and Leontyne Price,[19] and the Shreveport Little Theater, which dates to 1922. Her mother, Margaret Wilkinson, was also active in the Shreveport YWCA and the Shreveport Opera.[3]

In 1960, Lyons was a founding member of the Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club, which now offers twenty-one courts, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and full-service dining and lounge facilities.[20] She was a world traveler, a seamstress, and a gardener.[9] She was a board member of the foundation of the LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport[2] and a donor to the institution.[21]

An excellent cook, Lyons formerly operated her own restaurant.[22]In 1990, she was listed as a general partner of Wilkinson Properties Limited, with a mailing address in Memphis, Tennessee.[23]

Her daughter, Shreveport attorney Laurie Wilkinson Lyons (born April 1954), a Democrat,[24] told the journalist Margaret Martin of The Shreveport Times that her mother grieved for women who struggle with family violence and opened her home and heart to the needy: "It was not unusual for us to come home and there would be somebody we didn't know. Mama would be consoling them, and they would spend the night, people going through a difficult time in their lives."[2]

Death[edit]

Lyons died at the age of eighty-three at her 7130 Gilbert Drive residence in Shreveport. After a private burial at Forest Park East Cemetery, a memorial service was held on August 4, 2007, at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Shreveport. In addition to Laurie Lyons and her husband, Henry Clay Walker, IV (born August 1942), Lyons was survived by her five other children and their spouses: Susybelle L. Gosslee (born 1945), the former president of the League of Women Voters chapter in Dallas[25] and the former wife of John Michael Gosslee;[1] Stafford Lyons, wife of Henry P. Offermann; Charlton H. Lyons, III, and wife, the former Dianne Lewis; Sally L. Wood, and Marian L. McGoldrick, wife of Bruce Mortin McGoldrick. Her sister, Margaret Wilkinson Wilson (born 1929), formerly Margaret Butler, survived her, as did thirteen grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren.[9]Her oldest grandchild, John Wilkinson Gosslee of Dallas, died in 2013 of cancer at the age of forty-eight.[1]

According to her obituary, Lyons "loved the arts, music, and anything beautiful. She loved people and dogs, children and parties, and above all – laughter. Her generosity, sense of humor, and love of life will long be remembered."[9]

On February 1, 2008, Lyons's heirs held an estate sale at her home. The sale, which included Cartier jewelry and an assortment of unique household items, attracted a large crowd and was covered for The Shreveport Times by the photographer Greg Pearson and Margaret Martin, who wrote numerous articles about Lyons, whom she described as "one of those delightful persons we met through our long career."[26][22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "John Wilkinson Gosslee obituary (Grandson of Susybelle Lyons)". Dallas Morning News. March 21, 2013. Retrieved August 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Margaret Martin, "Susybelle W. Lyons funeral will be held today", The Shreveport Times, August 4, 2007
  3. ^ a b c "The Wilkinson Family". WordPress. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Wilkinson, W. Scott". lahistory.org. Retrieved September 17, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2016". house.louisiana.gov. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  6. ^ Stephens College Alumni: Virginia Shehee, Shirley Clarke, Susybelle Lyons, Lenore Carrero Nesbitt, Mark L. Taylor. LLC: kindle.amazon.com. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Famous Stephens College Alumni". ranker.com. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  8. ^ One of Lyons's C. E. Byrd High School and Stephens College classmates was Virginia Shehee, the Shreveport businesswoman who was from 1976 to 1980 the first woman to served in the Louisiana State Senate who did not succeed a husband.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Susybelle Wilkinson Lyons". The Shreveport Times. August 3, 2007. Retrieved August 23, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Charlton H. Lyons," A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. 1 (1988), pp. 528–529
  11. ^ a b "Charlton Havard Lyons, Jr.". WordPress. Retrieved August 23, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Charlton Lyons, December 1921". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved August 23, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "Lyons to Lyversa: Charlton Havard Lyons, Sr., Hall McCord Lyons, and Susybelle Lyons". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved August 23, 2104. 
  14. ^ "Susybelle Lyons Contribution List in 2004". campaignmoney.com. Retrieved August 23, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Shreveport, Louisiana, Political Contributions by Individuals: Susybelle Lyons". city-data.com. 1985/1986. Retrieved August 24, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Roemer, Charles Elson (Buddy), III". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Marilyn S. Joiner Named Marketer of the Year". wkhs.com. May 1, 2007. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  18. ^ Hall McCord Lyons obituary, The Shreveport Times, July 26, 1998
  19. ^ "About Shreveport Opera". shreveportopera.org. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club". pierremontoaks.com. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Deans' List $1,000+". sh.lsuhsc.edu. December 31, 2003. Retrieved August 24, 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "Out and About, Assignment: Estate sale". maggieoutandabout.blogspot.com. February 1, 2008. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Wilkinson Properties Limited". bizapedia.com. January 22, 1990. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Laurie Lyons, April 1954". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved August 23, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Susybelle Gosslee". C-SPAN. Retrieved August 24, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Susybelle Lyons Estate Sale". The Shreveport Times. February 1, 2008. Retrieved August 25, 2014.