James Weeks Lyons
June 6, 1932-Feb. 9, 2019
Palo Alto, California
Submitted by Amie Lyons Clarke
James Weeks Lyons, a Palo Alto resident, died on Feb. 9. He was 86.
He grew up in Jamestown, New York. After high school, he attended Allegheny College where he received his baccalaureate degree. He pursued his graduate studies at Indiana University, where he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in the School of Education. While there, he served as assistant director of the Indiana Memorial Union.
In 1962, at the age of 30, he was appointed Dean of Students at Haverford College in Pennsylvania and served in that post for 10 years. In 1972, he was appointed University Dean of Student Affairs at Stanford University and served in that position for 18 years, the longest to serve in that position to date. Halfway through his tenure as Dean he was appointed Lecturer in Stanford’s Graduate School of Education. He continued his research, writing, and teaching for seven years after becoming Dean Emeritus in 1990.
Lyons and his wife, Martha, regularly opened their home to students and faculty for weekly dinners and events to celebrate students’ service and achievement. In 1981 Lyons established the Deans Award for Service to recognize students who served Stanford and nearby communities in distinctive ways. When Lyons left the deanship the University renamed the Award to the “James W. Lyons Award for Service.” It has become a distinguished award presented each year.
Lyons was an active contributor to his profession. He regularly served on program and leadership councils of his professional organization, directed a graduate program in Student Affairs Administration at Stanford, published books and journal articles, and served as a consultant or an accreditation evaluator to more than 75 colleges and universities. In 1988 he received the annual Scott Goodnight Award for outstanding performance as a Dean. Lyons also received distinguished alumni awards from Allegheny College and Indiana University.
Mr. Lyons was passionate about the outdoors, camping and hiking with his family. He was an avid bee keeper. He rode his bike to work every day and would often be seen still wearing his bicycle helmet walking into his office. He was always more concerned for the feelings of others than himself. He was one of a kind.
Mr. Lyons was preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Martha Wichser Lyons. He is survived by his son Mark Lyons, his wife, Valerie, and grandson Adam of Portland, Oregon. Also, by his daughter, Amie Lyons Clarke, granddaughter Alyssa Clarke and grandson Nicholas Clarke of Raleigh, North Carolina, and his deeply loved partner of 16 years, Mary Ann Green Olson.
A memorial service will be announced at a later date. The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Jamestown High School Class of 1950 Scholarship Fund, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, 418 Spring Street, Jamestown, NY 14701.