Honolulu lost a gentle woman of grace, kindness and tact beloved of her family and friends, who lived her faith so fully as to be officially designated an “Island Treasure” by her diocese in 2000. Betty M. Lyons joined her Lord and her husband of 64 years, John, on December 17. Betty was born in Nebraska to an Irish farmer and a German schoolteacher. The physical isolation of the farm combined with the tendency of recent immigrants to gather based on their country of origin taught Betty how easy it is to feel left out, and began her quest to always make others feel comfortable and included. After the dust bowl years, the family sold the farm and returned to Milwaukee, WI. She finished school and began to work in an insurance agency in Madison. She met John on a blind date when he was attending the UW at Madison and wrote a letter to her mother that night saying “If I am to marry I believe I have met the man”. They married in 1946 after John returned from his Navy service in WWII.
The next 3 decades involved 6 moves for the family as John rose up in the Phone Company. Betty spent those years raising Lorna and Ross while moving and resettling in WI, NY, HI, and IN. The last 39 years of her life (save 3 yrs in Indiana) Betty was finally able to settle down and call Hawaii her home, which was especially meaningful to her because one of her sisters (Anita McFarland) had moved to Kailua directly after the war. Betty’s Mid-West roots and her gift of hospitality kept her in touch with her extended family and all her lifelong friends which ensured frequent visitors.
Once retired, Betty and John traveled extensively to the Far West and Europe in addition to their family visits to the mainland. While John golfed and focused on photography, Betty was able to dedicate herself to volunteering in her community which was how she lived her faith. She worked at Dana Project, Right to Life, various parish thrift stores, Meals on Wheels, rides for patients to medical appointments, and was both Greeter at Holy Trinity, as well as well as helping out in the office. She was involved with BCC and RCIA where she sponsored several “adopted daughters” who were studying to become Catholic.
Betty is survived by her daughter Lorna, who relocated to Honolulu from Vermont in October 2009 to served as a primary care-giver to Betty and John. Her son, John “Ross” (Jennifer) of upstate New York, also visited frequently over the last years to provide assistance. The five grandchildren each enjoyed their individual trips to spend time with John and Betty. They are Sean, Tiptonville, TN; Katie (Keith Krause) Cortez, CO; Tim (Kate) Colchester, VT; Christopher, NY, NY; and Greg, Oswego, NY.
Betty will surely be missed by her friends and family through her parishes, bridge groups, 1K, and all of the hoaaloha that shared her life. She lived as an embodiment of kindness and gentility, in service to the spirit of God’s love and blessed the lives of all she touched. We will celebrate her life on Saturday December 31st at Holy Trinity Church. In Memoriam will begin at 10a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass at 11 am. All are welcome, Aloha attire. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Hawaii Benedictine Monastery. Internment of her ashes will follow at Hawaii Memorial Cemetery for family.