Frank Lyon Jr., prominent businessman, veteran dies at 74

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 4,424 views 

A man whose business acumen and community service was remembered Tuesday as a leader whose family helped to build a college in Northeast Arkansas.

Frank Lyon Jr., 74, died Sunday at his home in Little Rock, according to a post on the Ruebel Funeral Home website.

Lyon was a member of the Lyon College board for more than 30 years, including serving as chairman of the board. At the time of his death, Lyon Jr. served as special advisor to the President for the Batesville-based college. The college’s president, Donald Weatherman, said Tuesday that Lyon’s life was well-lived.

“He savored life in a way that infected anyone around him. Whether it was his sound judgment in the Board Room or his keen eye in the duck blind, Dr. Lyon was an inspiration to all who had the privilege to know him,” Weatherman said. “Like his father, he was a remarkable businessman who was just as generous as he was successful. When asked to speak on special occasions where they were being honored, the family words were simply ‘My cup runneth over.’”

According to the obituary, Lyon graduated from Arkadelphia High School in 1959 and attended Davidson College and the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, graduating there in 1963 with honors.

He also received the Army Commendation Medal and graduated from the Harvard Business School with a Masters of Business Administration degree in 1967.

Frank Lyon Jr.
Frank Lyon Jr.

The college was renamed Lyon College after his family in the mid-1990s. The name change was due to the family’s support of the college and its mission, Weatherman said.

“When the college decided in 1994 to change its name from Arkansas College, the amazing commitment of the Lyon family, beginning in the 1940s, led then-president John Griffith to seek the family’s permission to honor their leadership with the new name, Lyon College. Lyon, Sr., was initially unwilling, but he was persuaded to agree by fellow trustees and family members. His son continued the tradition of involvement and support, making significant donations to the construction of the new Edwards Commons and the recently-dedicated Charles Whiteside Hall, one of two new residence halls,” Weatherman said.

Lyon also served as chairman, president and director of several companies including Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Arkansas, TC Bankshares, Wingmead, Inc., Arkansas Irrigation Company and US Bank of Arkansas.

He also had his own company, the Frank Lyon Company.

Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, said he had the pleasure and privilege of serving with Lyon Jr. on the now-Lyon College Board. He described Lyon Jr. as a “generous philanthropist who did so much without the credit and fanfare.”

Rutherford said Lyon was an amazing man with many different interests, ranging from going on duck hunts and lion safaris to discussing business and philanthropy. He never sought the limelight and was not someone who made speeches, Rutherford said of his friend. But, Rutherford said Lyon Jr.’s mark and influence on the college was definitely felt.

“By his presence and commitment, he made a difference,” Rutherford said.

Talk Business & Politics will update this story later today.