Joan Mander Lyons

Joan Mander Lyons, age 77, died at College Station on Monday, October 17, 2011 due to complications of Alzheimer’s.

Born January 14, 1934 in Chicago, Illinois to William and Claudia Mander, she attended Immaculta High School. During high school, she worked at the Chicago Tribune where her mom and aunt were employed. Upon graduating, she spread her wings and left her large circle of family and friends to earn a Bachelor’s in philosophy from Loretto Heights College in Denver, Colorado. There she was introduced to Francis Lyons whom she wed February 4, 1956 in Pittsburg, Kansas. A few months later they were transferred to Orange, Texas where they raised a family of six children. She never met a stranger and over the years “adopted” other daughters.

Joan was very active in the community. She taught swimming lessons for 18 years, and helped start St. Therese’s Day School. She worked suicide rescue, taught English to Vietnamese immigrants, and helped with CASA, AIDS House, and a local soup kitchen. At the age of 50, Joan went back to school to earn her Master’s in English and learned “college teaching was a delight” when she received a full-time teaching position from Lamar University-Orange. After retiring from teaching, Joan stayed active through volunteering and church activities even after moving to College Station in 2006.

Joan will be especially remembered for her part in establishing the Southeast Texas Hospice that opened in 1973. At that time it was the first hospice in the South and the eighth in the nation.

Survivors include husband Francis Lyons; children Claudia and Jimmy Krause, Tim and Stacie Lyons, Anne Thorshov, John and Brenda Lyons, Patrick and Kim Lyons, and David and Ivonne Lyons; sister Cathy and Richard Heyerdayl; and sister-in-law Therese Yoakam. Joan had 12 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.

A private service for family only will be held at A&M United Methodist Church. A remembrance gathering for friends and family will be held Saturday, October 22, 2011 from 10-12 at the First Presbyterian Church of Orange.

Memorial contributions are welcome at Southeast Texas Hospice, 912 West Cherry Avenue, Orange, TX 77630. A special thanks goes to Connie Bailey for her loving care and Traditions Hospice for their help and support.


  1. When I saw the picture of Joan it brought back a flood of wonderful memories, a smile came across my face and then reality set in. The world has lost a person of great warmth and joy. The smile now removed by the reality of the situation I write this. I feel blessed to have been one of her students and my teaching style was influenced by her. An old man once told me, You will never die as long as one person carries your memories in them. Joan will be with us forever in our memories. Thank you God for letting me know her.

  2. Dear Lyons Family: My sincere, heartfelt condolences on your loss. Joan was an inspiration to me in school and a teacher I remember fondly. The pain of your loss is shared by many. Warmest regards, Bill Cardner

  3. I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Mrs. Lyons. Other than the mother of my childhood friends and the wife of a former co-worker, she was one of my teachers at Lamar. No one had ever made english class so interesting! She both enlightened and inspired not only me, but countless others. She was a great lady and the world is missing a saint….but now Jesus has another helper…and he can just step aside and let her at it!

  4. My condolences to the Lyon’s Family. “Joan” was one of my English
    professors at Lamar University-Orange back in the late 1980’s. She remained
    a friend many years after and I can always remember her being so
    cheerful and positive. She touched many lives and encouraged many to
    pursue their educations despite their obstacles and age.

  5. Lyons Family: You were truly blessed to have such a wonderful mother and wife. I remember each of you fondly, and I know Mrs. Lyons felt blessed to have each of you. I always smile when I think of each of you. Each of you were different, but the real link was your Mom and Dad. I send my prayers to each of you and my love. Sue Bearden

  6. Just wanted you all to know how much we admired and enjoyed Joan. She was the kind of lady that made you laugh and made you think! I loved having her as a college teacher, she was tough but I learned many things. Sorry we will be out of town this Saturday, hate missing her memorial service. You all are in our thoughts and prayers. Myra and Alan

  7. Lyons Family: We are sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. Unfortunately, we will not be able to attend the memorial service but will be thinking of you. Charles & Mary

  8. John,
    You and your family are in our prayers. May the peace of God surround you during this time of loss.
    Love,Lois & Barry

  9. To the Lyons family, God bless you during this time and the months of loving care you unselfishly gave to such an angel. My Mother, Anne Tobias, was a professor whose office was across the hall from Joan. Many years ago, I mentioned to my Mom that I really thought that she and “the lady across the hall” would be friends. It was so easy to see what a special person Joan was even before you met her. What a brilliant, fun, and warm person! Not long after I mentioned that I thought she and “the lady across the hall would be great friends”; they became very close. I have fond memories of the weekly prayer group held at our home, which Joan led. After the birth of our first child, Joan sent a card that I still have. In the card, she put that my Mother was her soul sister. I know that my Mother felt the same way. I absolutely can’t imagine how difficult this long goodbye has been for your family. May God bless you and may the many happy memories and special family bond strengthen you now and in the days ahead. Sincerely, Elizabeth Tobias Riley (

  10. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving. And into His courts with praise.
    Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is
    everlasting. And His truth endures to all generations.
    –Psalm 100 4-5
    May God richly bless you and your family, Francis.

  11. Joan Lyons was one-of-a-kind. Her zest for life was infectious. The wonderful family she raised is her true legacy.

  12. Ms. Lyons was Claudia & I’s CCD teacher in the old St. Mary’s school building by the church back when nuns were still teaching. I cannot tell you who any of my other CCD teachers were, but she was a very special teacher to me. Of course, I can also remember her telling Claudia and I to stop talking in class, but she always had my respect. Then, many years later, I was fortunate enough to work with Francis at Chevron for 10 years while he was the Safety Manager. My thoughts and prayers are with Claudia, Francis, and Ms. Lyons’ entire family. I think of Ms. Lyon and it makes me smile of the memories I had in her class and seeing her in church. Thank you for allowing me to have her in my life and to have known such a dear lady.

  13. Epiphany – a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience. Sitting in her English class she asked if we knew what epiphany meant. No one raised their hand so she started telling us about a story. Someone had taken food from their deep freeze and she wasn’t too upset. A few days later she caught a man emptying her freezer. In his hands he had her Blue Bell ice cream. She screamed at him and he took off running. Joan then explained her “epiphany”. She found herself in the middle of an unsavory part of town dressed only in her night clothes running down the road screaming for her robber to drop the Blue Bell. We spent the rest of the class laughing. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to learn from the best. Heaven’s angels will have their hands full with this one.

  14. Precious Lyons Family! Joan was a true “one of a kind,” meant in the highest form of praise. Of course there will never be another Joan. I became one of her “adopted” daughters when my former husband left our family. Your mom seemed ALWAYS to have time for a cup of coffee at my breakfast table, a listening ear from a very broken me, and the most profound comments of encouragement. She was truly the hands and heart of Jesus for me at that time. I LOVED her earthiness, and she could be hilarious, too. She loved her Francis, her children and her grandchildren so much. David, I will be sure that Scott and Todd know of your Mom’s passing. Sending love and prayers. Camilla

  15. Dear Lyons family, I so enjoyed knowing your dear Mother while living in Orange. Your family was important to us. You girls as baby sitters, Pat as a friend of Biff’s and David as a friend of Ginny’s. I have lots of wonderful memories of doing a variety of activities with your Mother and will treasure all of those. She was an interesting, inspiring and fun friend. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Love, Linda Bivens

  16. Dear Lyons Family, Joan was a wonderful teacher and she was my favorite at Lamar University. The skills I’ve used the most were learned in her class. I’ve often thought of her, over the years and it always made me smile. I was so blessed to have had her in my life. God Bless

  17. To the Lyons family: Your mother was such a good person who did so many things to help others. Joan was my mother’s best friend for many years, sharing books and insights with her, making her days so much brighter. When you remember her, remember who she was in her prime. Hold on to those good memories.

    Much love to all of you,
    Jean Stuntz

  18. Joan’s death brings back many wonderful memories of our time in Orange. I always looked forward to her “Back to School Coffee” on the first day of school. She always tried to make the world a better place for others and was such a visionary. The word ‘no’ was not in her vocabulary and she worked tirelessly at any new project. She was an inspiration to all. My wish for you is happy memories of your mother’s life.

  19. Sorry to have missed the memorial service. I’ve been working nights for longer than I care to think about and forgot to set an early alarm. When I heard of Mrs. Lyons illness the first thing I thought was that she would eventually be unable to read Literature and what a loss that would be. I saw a movie that depicted a version of the afterlife. One of the characters in the afterlife was a scholar and his domain was shown as an endless expanse of huge bookshelves. I think a small canal was between the shelves and you transversed the area with a gondola. Maybe in the unknown country we get more time to read. As much as I admire Mrs. Lyon’s volunteer work with so many social service groups and her career as an educator what I admire most is the cinnamon buns she baked.

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