Laurence “Larry” Elmer Lyons

October 4, 1939 - January 14, 2021
Laurence Lyons

Laurence “Larry” Elmer Lyons, age 81, passed away Thursday, January 14, 2021. He was born October 4, 1939 in Fulton, KS, the son of Luther Byron and Lucy Christine (Leitch) Lyons. He married his lifetime love Patricia “Pat” Henderson on June 21, 1964, in Columbus, MS, and together over the 57 years that followed, they built a life they loved.

At 16 years old, Larry was the top Air Force Academy nominee from the state of Kansas, but he was too young to enroll, so he left the family farm and attended The University of Kansas, and later Park College, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He joined the United States Air Force in 1959, entering pilot training and graduating in the Class of ’61 Delta. He went on to complete B-52 training, nuclear weapons delivery school, and Air Force survival school. He flew many active combat missions, including Vietnam, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, where he piloted the first B-52 sent to air carrying nuclear weapons. Larry captained the B-52, C-5, and C-130, and still holds the record as the youngest ever combat-ready B-52 pilot in history. After 20 years of dedicated service to his country, decorated Lieutenant Colonel Laurence Lyons retired from the Air Force in 1979. Following his military career, Larry happily settled back in Bourbon County, KS where his business endeavors included Petromark and the beloved Lyons Twin Mansions. In his retirement he enjoyed being a member of ToastMasters, Shriners, Masons, and his local coffee group who solved the world’s problems daily.

Of all of his storied accomplishments, Larry considered his family to be one of the most important. He was the proud patriarch, and was adored by each of those lucky enough to be considered family, whether a blood relative or otherwise. He was the loving father of Joe (Laetitia), Preecia (Charles), Ben, and Nate (Bailey), as well as his honorary sons Masa and Clifford. He was the doting grandfather of Zach, Abby, Addi, Emma, Brooklyn, Lauren, Jhett, Jaxon, Lute, Ellis, and Lucille. He was a caring brother to Tom, Jerry, Doc, Betty, Jane, Ruth, Alice, and Peg, as well as Joe and JB, who were like brothers, and was cherished by a number of beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins. Larry was a treasured patient of a few select medical caregivers who came to be considered family, and the Lyons family extends a very sincere thank you to these special people. Larry will be fondly remembered by all of those listed here, and many more. He was preceded in death by his parents, and a number of siblings.

Larry was a master on the grill, a gracious provider, a dependable constant, the best hugger, the perfect gentleman, a lifelong scholar and teacher, a calming presence, a chocolate milk maker extraordinaire, a humble hero, a soft personality with firm opinions, a lender of comforting shirts, an encyclopedia of knowledge, an expert navigator with an internal GPS, and a truly gentle soul. He was appropriately referred to by many as simply being “the best man”.

The Lyons’ home was always open to young people who needed a safe place to go, and Larry was glad to be able to feed and house those that showed up, never asking questions or expecting anything in return. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the USD 234 Pantry to continue Larry’s legacy of “feeding the world”, which was his way of expressing love.

Graveside services will be held at 11:00 AM Wednesday, January 20th, at the U. S. National Cemetery. Friends are welcome but must remain on the road adjacent to the committal shelter wearing face covering as directed by the cemetery. Military honors will be provided by the U. S. Airforce Honor guard. Donations to the USD 234 Pantry may be left in care of the Cheney Witt Chapel, PO Box 347, 201 S. Main, Ft. Scott, KS 66701. Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at cheneywitt.com.