Obituary: Joseph “Joe” Michael Lyons

Former Claremont mayor, medical researcher, volunteer, tireless activist

Claremont resident and former mayor Joe Lyons died Thursday, December 8, 2022 at the age of 77.

A celebration of life service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, July 22 at La Verne Church of the Brethren, 2425 E St., La Verne, CA 91750. It will be recorded and livestreamed on YouTube at

Joseph “Joe” Michael Lyons was born in Fresno and raised in the suburbs of Boston until his mid-teens when his family moved to San Diego. Raised in an Irish Catholic family, Joe was the second of five boys (James, Joseph, John, Michael, and Patrick) to James Francis Lyons and Jeannette Virginia Gilbert Lyons.

Upon graduation from high school, he went on to earn Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in microbiology from San Diego State University, and later a Ph.D. in immunogenetics from Vrije Universiteit Medical School in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

He began his career in medical research at the University of California, San Diego’s School of Medicine from 1972 to 1983. In 1983 he helped create his position at City of Hope National Medical Center’s Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory, from where he retired in 2009.

He was a co-author of more than 80 research based articles and abstracts and was a peer reviewer for several journals over the years, including Clinical Infectious Diseases, Journal of Clinical Investigation, and Journal of Infection. He served as a member of the Yo San University Institutional Review Board, protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects in research conducted at the university. He also participated in dissertation defense and in advising the doctoral department on medical and research topics.

The proud father of four sons, Adam, Matthew, Peter, and Bryce, he was actively involved at all levels of youth sports and other organized activities in which his boys participated. All of his sons played soccer in AYSO Region 112, La Verne/San Dimas, where he found himself coaching frequently and also providing leadership for the region as a commissioner.

He was founding president of the San Dimas High School Academic Boosters Club, which helped to recognize academic and extracurricular excellence with its gold and royal STAR program and supported students with SAT preparation and sponsorship of the academic decathlon team. He was a community member representative on a number of Bonita Unified School District advisory boards, including the WASC Accreditation Committee for San Dimas High School.

He served on the boards of the Pomona Valley Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Inland Valley Chapter of Death Penalty Focus, and was a delegate to Tri-City Mental Health Center’s Mental Health Services Act planning process. He chaired the board of the Inland Valley Recovery Services and the board of the San Gabriel Valley Consortium on Homelessness.

He was a founding charter member of the Bonita Democratic Council, established in 2005 to serve the communities of La Verne and San Dimas, to inform and organize Democrats and to support progressive candidates and causes. In 2008, he was encouraged by Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman to run for California State Senate, in the “red zone” District 29 against Bob Huff. He lost, but earned more than 126,000 votes and was the Democratic nominee for the next four years, and became more visible and active at both the county and state level of the party.

In 2011, he was supported by an exceptional campaign committee and was elected to the Claremont City Council. He was honored by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party as Democrat of the Year for the 41st Assembly District.

He was a resident of Claremont since 2002 and married his beloved wife, Sharyn Webb, in 2015.

He served two terms on the Claremont City Council from March 2011 to November 2018. He served as mayor in 2014 and 2015. He served as the council representative to the Tri-City Mental Health Governing Board, the Six Basins Water Master Board, the Pomona Valley Transit Authority, the City of Claremont’s Committee on Aging, the council’s Commission Nominating Ad Hoc Committee, Foothill Transit, and the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments Homelessness Committee.

After his service on the City Council, he focused his tireless advocacy for affordable housing and efforts on the homeless emergency. He continued to serve on the Los Angeles County Measure H Revenue Planning Group and represented San Gabriel Valley (SPA 3).

He is survived by his wife Sharyn Webb; sons Adam, Matthew, Peter, and Bryce; and grandchildren Taylor, Julia, Jacob, Evan, and Ian.

The family requests memorial contributions be made to Ophelia’s Jump at; Inland Valley Recovery Services at; or National Alliance on Mental Illness, Pomona Valley at


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