Emile Hubert Lyon was born on March 26, 1906 in Elmo, TX, forty miles east of Dallas. After graduating high school, he attended Texas A&M College where he played on the football team. When he was a freshman, his teammates called him “Ted” after Chicago White Sox pitcher Ted Lyons. The nickname stuck throughout his life.
Ted left college in 1924 and worked as a tank car inspector for Pierce Petroleum Company of Dallas. He met and dated Melody Simmons of Sweetwater, TX. The couple married on December 29, 1928.
Ted began his 37-year career with Phillips Petroleum Company a month later. He started as a district salesman in Amarillo, TX. His abilities as a businessman served him well as he worked his way up the sales management field. He became vice president of sales in 1959, and was elected to the company’s board of directors in 1962. Ted took early retirement on February 1, 1965.
Besides his involvement with Phillips Petroleum Company, he became very involved in the cattle industry and owned a 700-acre ranch stocked with “white faced” cattle, as he called them.
Elsewhere, Ted saw a promising future in a small refining company named Bell Oil and Gas. The business grew and prospered and Ted became the major owner of the company. Later, he worked out an agreement with Jack Vickers of Wichita, KS. Vickers owned a retail petroleum marketing company with service stations throughout the Midwest. The two men eventually sold their company to Swift Meat Packing Company and received stock in Swift. Over the years, the stock increased in value and was a major part of his estate at the time of his death.
In addition to three ranches, Ted had a resort at Grand Lake. After his death, the resort was sold and is now known as “The Coves” housing addition.
By the early 1970s, Ted realized he had amassed a considerable fortune. He realized he needed to do something to avoid the federal government getting a substantial portion of his estate. Ted and Melody didn’t have children, but they were close to four nieces and one nephew. The created a unitrust, which would become effective after their deaths and provide income for the nieces and nephew. When they were all deceased, the unitrust would terminate and the assets would be transferred to the E.H. Lyon and Melody Lyon Foundation.
Ted passed away on April 15, 1978 at the age of 72. Melody passed away less than two weeks later on April 27 at the age of 68.
Except for a couple of years in Utah, Ted and Melody lived in Bartlesville beginning in 1944.
By 1972, Lyon had already shown evidence of his generous nature and his philosophy of giving. In 1967, he personally conducted the fundraising drive to build a coronary care center in what was then Jane Phillips Episcopal-Memorial Medical Center. He himself contributed today’s equivalent of $69,000 to the project. A few years later he donated the equivalent of 345,000 to help construct the hospital’s intensive care unit. But helping young people, civic projects, and educational facilities was also part of the Lyon’s philosophy of giving.
Bartlesville Community Foundation will host the Legacy Hall of Fame Gala on Saturday, May 16, 2020. At this event, the Foundation will honor the Dunlap and Vaclaw families as the 2020 Legacy Families and the Lyon family as the Heritage Family. For more information about this event or to purchase tickets please call 918.337.2287 or visit www.bartlesvillecf.org.