Edward Francis Lyons, Sr., 84, an executive with the Bilco Company, died at his Madison home on Dec. 23, surrounded by his family. He was the husband of 42 years to the late Jane Whalen Lyons, formerly of New Haven, and together they raised eight children.
Mr. Lyons’ business and personal life was centered around his family. He was born in New Haven on Jan. 28, 1926, son of the late George W. Lyons, Sr. and Emma Muggleton Lyons. His father founded the Bilco Company, a manufacturer of metal access doors, that same year.
Raised in Hamden and North Guilford, he later attended Villanova University. A childhood bout with rheumatic fever kept him from service during World War II. During that period, he and his sister Dorothy published a newsletter, The Chronicle, which kept many overseas servicemen from the New Haven area informed of events occurring stateside.
After the war, Mr. Lyons began a career at the Bilco Company that lasted nearly 50 years. Along with his father and four brothers, Mr. Lyons built the company into the leading global manufacturer of horizontal access doors. Today, 84 years after the company was founded, it remains a family-run enterprise. Mr. Lyons was also involved in the family’s real estate business, the Hallock Realty Company, a land development company founded in 1952 and based in Connecticut.
The U.S. Virgin Islands also played a large part in Mr. Lyons’ life. In 1962, along with his brother Bill, Harold Bernier, and E.J. Davis, he founded the Gannett Corporation, a real estate development company and building products distributor in St. Croix. Mr. Lyons and Harold Bernier later founded Vimark, at St. Croix based ship chandlery company.
Mr. Lyons was widely known for his ever present humor, as well as his genuine interest in helping others. Beyond his extended family, he touched the lives of countless people.
He was a trustee of the Mercy Center in Madison, where he led an effort that kept the Center open and operating in the late 1970s. He was also actively involved in St. Margaret’s Church in Madison and served as a trustee.
He is survived by three brothers, John M. Lyons of Hamden, Robert J. Lyons and his wife Nancy of Hamden, and William C. Lyons and his wife Barbara of Branford. He is also survived by eight children, Lisa M. Lyons of Livingston Manor, New York; Edward F. Lyons, Jr. and Jane Alling Lyons of Darien and their sons Edward and James and daughter Charlotte; Peter T. Lyons and his wife Karen of Barrington, Rhode Island, and their daughter Katherine and son Tighe; Christopher O. Lyons and his wife Debra of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and their son John; Sarah T. Lyons of Guilford; David C. Lyons and his wife Margaret of Madison and their daughter Rose; Jennifer W. Lyons of Portland, Oregon; and Julie Lyons Novak and her husband Greg of Clinton and their daughter Kelsey Jane and son Zachery. He was predeceased by a brother, George W. Lyons, Jr., formerly of Branford, and a sister, Dorothy Joyce Berg, formerly of Westbrook.
A mass was held at St. Margaret’s Church, Madison, on Dec. 30, followed by a memorial celebration at the Pine Orchard Country Club in Branford. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Connecticut Hospice, 100 Double Beach Rd., Branford, CT 06405 (www.hospice.com); or to the St. Raphael Foundation, 1450 Chapel St., New Haven, CT 06511 (www.srhs.org); or to the Mercy Center of Madison, 167 Neck Rd., Madison, CT 06443 (www.mercybythesea.org).