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.
For many years, Lyon had 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.
By the early 1970s, Ted realized he had amassed a considerable fortune, and that 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. They 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.
Since that time and under the guidance of a five-member board, the Lyon Foundation has donated millions of dollars to countless groups and organizations for the betterment of the Bartlesville community they called home.