Amidst the joy associated with the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, there is frequently also loss and sadness, and Osage County residents who knew the late Joyce Lyons have been experiencing a measure of that sadness.
Lyons, known for her work in the medical field and at the Osage County Historical Society Museum, passed away Dec. 27 of cancer at the age of 71. She is lovingly remembered for her intelligence, sensitivity, hard work and kindness.
“She was just a very kind and loving person,” said Terrie Jeffers, a friend with whom Lyons worked at the Historical Society Museum on Lynn Avenue. “She loved the museum. She gave all her heart and soul to the museum.”
Jeffers remembered Lyons as a lover of nature and photography, as well as of research and writing. Lyons knew a lot about rocks and grasses and was very good at research projects, Jeffers said, adding that Lyons enjoyed poetry and wrote her own, which she didn’t generally show to anyone.
Jerry Butterbaugh, who chairs the historical society’s board of directors, noted that Lyons preceded him as the board’s presiding officer and was very active and involved at the museum.
“She loved preparing displays,” Butterbaugh said.
Nature photographer and lawyer Harvey Payne was a good friend to Lyons through the years, and taught her as a photography student. Payne voiced an acute sense of loss.
“You can’t say enough good things about Joyce,” Payne said, commenting that her special qualities came through in her work as a clinic employee, as well as in her other activities. “She just always amazed you with her kindness, her gentleness, her insightfulness.”
“She was the best ever at drawing blood,” Payne said, recalling how sensitive to patients Lyons was, and he also described her as an insightful photographer.
Payne shared that Lyons was a culturally aware and sensitive person who once took a pouch of tobacco with her during a visit to the cabin of the late John Joseph Mathews, the Osage tribal councilor, spokesperson and man of letters. That pouch of tobacco remains on the mantel in the Mathews cabin, Payne said.
Garrett Hartness, a fellow member of the historical society’s board of directors, commented on Lyons’ reputation for working with museum visitors who needed help. Hartness described Lyons as a person with a wealth of knowledge about local places and a willingness to share her knowledge with museum visitors.
“She worked with people that came in that needed help with research,” Hartness said. “She also wrote little pieces for the papers, and put together some little pamphlets and things that were very useful.”
Dr. Michael Jordan, who worked with Lyons professionally, said she worked as a hospital lab technician and later in the clinic where he was a physician. He described her as a dedicated professional who could be called upon regardless of the hour of the day or the weather, and who had a reputation for exactness in an era before the current medical technology was available.
“She gave those exact results from the computer in her head and her soul,” Jordan said of Lyons. “She was just fabulous in the field she chose to work in.”
Jordan characterized Lyons as “a silent saint.”