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“Mortar Board was proud to claim JoAnn as a member. Please know of our deep sympathy and most sincere regard for the way that she lived Mortar Board's...Read More ยป
1 of 1 | Posted by: Jane Hamblin - Columbus, OH


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JoAnn Reeves Lyon, longtime Sterling resident and community leader, died 06/08/2019 at the age of 94. She was born on July 11, 1924 in Mitchel, South Dakota, daughter of William Stanley Reeves and Frances Corwin Reeves, both of Iowa. Her husband of 65 years, James H. Lyon, passed away in 2012. Survivors include her sister, Mary Frances Reeves Packard; children, Scott Lyon, Linda Lyon-Russell (Don), Frances Lyon-Dugin (Bruce), and Charles Lyon; ten grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

JoAnn grew up in Baltimore, MD and attended Eastern High School, but returned to her parents' Iowa roots to attend Iowa State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics with a major in Child Development. At Iowa State, she was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority and Mortar Board Honor Society, and Associate Editor of the Iowa Homemaker magazine. She later earned her Master of Science in Home Economics with a Major in Marriage and Family Life from Northern Illinois University. Lifelong education was a key value that she instilled throughout her family.

After college, JoAnn worked at the Central Institute for the Deaf in St Louis, Missouri while her husband was at Washington University School of Dental Medicine. Afterwards, they chose to live in Sterling when a close family friend said, "This town needs a good, young dentist." JoAnn made the most of the opportunity there to raise her family with her husband, Jim, and serve the community.

JoAnn's volunteer experience was extensive and fruitful. She served the Girl Scouts of America, Green Hills Council, as a troop leader, Neighborhood Chairman, Day Camp Director, Trainer, Council Vice President of a seven-county area, and Long-Range Planning Committee member. She received national recognition of her service from GSUSA in 1973.

She was a life member of the American Association of University Women and a recipient of the Named Grant Fellowship. During her children's school years, she served as PTA President. She is a sister in the local chapter BH of PEO, and filled many officer roles in its local chapters. She was a member of the Sinnissippi Garden Club, and she and her husband hosted many visitors from abroad for the USIA International Visitor Program. She was awarded the Professional Service Award from the Greater Sterling Chamber of Commerce in 1985.

As a member of Wesley United Methodist Church, formerly the Fourth Street Methodist Church, Jo Ann served on the original building committee for the church on 16th Avenue, and later the addition to expand it. She was a church school teacher and served on the Official Board, Finance Committee Chair, Endowment Committee, Board and Administrative Committee, and was Lay Delegate to Annual Conference. In 2014, she established and funded the Lyon Family Scholarship for graduating high school seniors in the church, as part of the church's endowment fund.

As a YWCA volunteer, she was a board member and officer, building committee member, and advisory panel member. For ten years she was employed as the Executive Director of the YWCA. During that time, she was a founder of COVE, the first domestic abuse shelter for women in Lee and Whiteside Counties, and later served on the board and volunteered on the hotline. She initiated a rape crisis and education program, a parent-child advocate program, and the Employment Project, a program for seniors and those with disabilities. She was the founder of the YWCA Women's Leadership Luncheon in 1982, now the YWCA Women of Achievement Luncheon and a key fundraising event. She was also the founder of the YWCA Endowment Fund, which, after her service of 25 years on its committee, was renamed the JoAnn Lyon Endowment Fund in November of 2010.

She served five years at the Whiteside County Board of Health, including two as President, and was part of the 1980 Whitehouse Conference on Children as chair of a nine-county committee. She served six years on the Whiteside County Home Extension board and was volunteer treasurer and personnel committee member of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She often said that her greatest philanthropic passion was the pursuit of equal rights and opportunities for women and girls.

Along with serving the community, JoAnn had many hobbies and interests centered around her family and home. With her engineer father, she designed the home where her family resided, and she enjoyed landscaping and gardening. She and her husband attended many antique auto shows, tours and antique auctions, and she refinished country furniture they purchased. Sewing and making miniature rooms satisfied more of her creative talents. She and her husband enjoyed US and world-wide travel and made frequent trips to see their children and grandchildren scattered throughout the country. She was known among her family and friends as a woman of great wisdom, an empathetic listener and a trusted confidante.

The family wishes to thank the extremely faithful team of caregivers who loved her as family and worked so hard to make sure she was comfortable and well cared for. We know that she had a positive influence on them as well. We also want to acknowledge with great affection her Sterling "family": those who provided rides to church and other outings, the "Tuesday night dinner group", the entire congregation of Wesley United Methodist Church, and many, many faithful friends. Visitation will be held at Wesley United Methodist Church from 9:00 am to 11:00 am on July 12th, with a Memorial Service to follow. Memorials can be given in JoAnn's name to the Wesley United Methodist Church Endowment Fund-Lyon Family Scholarship and the Sterling Schools Foundation.