October 5, 1923|
Shreveport, Caddo Parish
|Died||July 31, 2007
Residence in Shreveport
|Alma mater||Stephens College
University of Texas at Austin
|Spouse(s)||Divorced from Charlton H. Lyons, Jr.|
Laurie W. Lyons Walker
Susybelle Wilkinson Lyons (October 5, 1923 - July 31, 2007) was a socialite and philanthropist in Shreveport, Louisiana, who was particularly active in the Young Women's Christian Association Family Violence Program.
Lyons was born in Shreveport to William Scott Wilkinson, a Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1920 to 1924, and the former Margaret West (1898-1995). Nicknamed "Duke", she was educated in Shreveport public schools and then attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, and the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi.
Lyons was the daughter-in-law of Charlton Havard Lyons, Sr., considered the "father of the Republican Party in Louisiana" and Marjorie Hall Lyons (1895-1971), for whom the theater at Methodist-affiliated Centenary College in Shreveport is named. Divorced from Charlton H. Lyons, Jr. (born 1921), of Shreveport, she was a former sister-in-law of Hall McCord Lyons (1923-1998), a Republican congressional candidate in Lafayette in 1966, who later carried the American Party banner for the United States Senate in 1972. Lyons herself was a generous contributor to numerous Republican candidates, including U.S. President George W. Bush. She was a delegate to the 1960 Republican National Convention in Chicago which affirmed the Nixon-Lodge ticket.
Lyons' daughter, Shreveport attorney Laurie W. Lyons, recalls her commitment to the YMCA Family Violence Program: "When she saw films of what those women had to endure, it was very moving. She didn't cry easily. But when she talked about them, she would cry." In 1996, she served as co-chairwoman with Marilyn Joiner of the YWCA's $1.1 million capital campaign drive. In addition to the YMCA, Lyons actively supported the Shreveport Symphony, the Shreveport Opera, and the Shreveport Little Theater. She was a founding member of the Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club. Her artistic talent was reflected in her role as seamstress, gardner, cook, and world traveler. She was a patron of the arts. She was a board member of the foundation of the Medical Center of Louisiana State University at Shreveport.
Laurie Lyons told the journalist Margaret Martin of the Shreveport Times that her mother 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."
Lyons died at her home at 7130 Gilbert Drive in Shreveport. After a private burial at Forest Park Cemetery, a memorial service was held on August 4, 2007, at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Shreveport.
In addition to Laurie Lyons (husband Henry C. Walker), she was survived by five other children and their spouses: Susybelle L. Gosslee, Stafford Lyons (Henry Offermann), Charlton H. Lyons, III (Dianne Lewis Lyons), Sally L. Wood, and Marian L. McGoldrick (Bruce McGoldrick). She was also survived by a sister, Margaret Wilkinson Wilson, thirteen grandchildren, one of whom, John Wilkinson Gosslee (1964-2013) of Dallas, Texas, died of cancer at the age of forty-eight, and thirteen great-grandchildren.
- The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Lyons to Lyversa
- "John Wilkinson Gosslee". Shreveport Times. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
Margaret Martin, "Susybelle W. Lyons funeral will be held today", Shreveport Times, August 4, 2007: http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070804/OBITUARIES01/708040326/1046/js07
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