Obituary: Melinda Kay Lyon
Melinda passed peacefully at home on September 23, 2023, surrounded by her loving family after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. Born in Dallas, Texas to Donna and George Lyon on April 16, 1951, she was the second of four daughters. Growing up, she had a quiet independent nature and marched to the beat of her own drum. Early on, she developed a love of animals and the outdoors which would become part of her character and moniker that described who she was and how she lived her life.
After graduating high school in Dallas, she attended Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado and then went on to Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas where she received her Bachelor of Science in Forestry.
Melinda’s passion for wilderness, love of the mountains and thoughtful land management brought her west to California where she landed in Idyllwild. Here, in 1976, she began her career with the U.S. Forest Service on the San Bernardino National Forest, San Jacinto Ranger District. She was one of only a few women firefighters back then supporting fire suppression, first at the Tripp Flats Fire Station and then at the Keenwild Helibase with the Helitack crew for 6 years. In 1988, she moved into the recreation and wilderness management arena as Wilderness and Trails Manager where she spent most of the remainder of her career and really found her niche. Responsible for the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Wilderness areas along with spearheading volunteer programs, she made lifelong friends, received several awards and was instrumental in developing programs that are still thriving today. A few years before retirement, she moved over to the Front Country Ranger District in Lytle Creek where she enjoyed her time as the Recreation Officer, working with staff and volunteers. She was highly regarded by all as a kind, giving person who was always genuine, helpful and sincere. In her spare time, she loved traveling, skiing and hiking and was like a “mountain goat on the trails!” She also enjoyed running and striving for a healthy lifestyle. Although she was not one to boast, she was proud to have trained and run the LA Marathon twice.
After retirement in 2014, Melinda found she spent more time down the mountain in Upland rather than in Idyllwild. Her new passions included tennis, cycling and the friends that she made at The Claremont Club in Claremont.
Melinda is survived by two sisters, Nancy Lyon of Aliso Viejo, CA, Paula Hogan of Hemet, CA and niece, Kristen D. Murray of Portland, OR along with her four beloved cats, Sunny, Wish, Stormy and Luna. She was preceded in death by her parents and sister Marsha Murray.
Melinda will always be remembered for her gentle heart, sweet smile and desire to leave an intentionally light footprint in this beautiful world of ours. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, she would be appreciative of donations to Priceless Pet Rescue in Claremont, CA www.pricelesspetrescue.org/donate/ or to A Living Tribute at www.alivingtribute.org who plant forest tree seedlings.