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Jocelyn Lyon

Jocelyn Lyon, a longtime Claremont resident, died on December 8, 2015 at Mount San Antonio Gardens, two months to the day after her 88th birthday.  

Known to all of her friends as “Joce,” she was born in Narberth, Pennsylvania on October 8, 1927 to Ronald and Mabel Foulke. Early on, she moved with her parents to Illinois where she grew up in Aurora, a city west of Chicago.

After graduating high school in Aurora, she studied two years at Principia College in Missouri. Taking one year off for some work experience, she transferred to Purdue University for her junior and senior years, graduating there in 1950 with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. Her first jobs following graduation were in accounting and teaching in the Chicago area. Then in 1952, her life changed.   While vacationing with her best friend at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, she met her friend’s cousin William Lyon, who would become her first husband. For their first date they went sailing on Lake Geneva in Bill’s family’s E boat, a particular type of inland lake sailboat. Joce never tired of sailing on “the lake,” as they always called it.

Jocelyn and William had four sons together while Bill worked as an assistant hospital administrator in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Gary, Indiana. The family moved to Bradbury, California in 1966 after Bill received a job offer from the City of Hope. A year and a half after that, the family found a permanent home in Claremont, where Jocelyn spent the rest of her life.

Once her four sons were all in school, Mrs. Lyon began a 27-year career with the Claremont Unified School District. She started in the district in 1969 as a teacher at Oakmont Elementary, becoming interim principal for a brief time there before being named principal at Mountain View Elementary. In her role as principal at Mountain View, she embraced the families. She was dedicated to all the children and supportive of the parents within the entire school. Despite working as a full-time district employee, she somehow found the time to get her Master of Education from Cal Poly, Pomona in 1979. Later in her career, she moved into leadership roles within the district, contributing actively within the District Staff Development Program and the English as a Second Language Program (ESL), as well as serving as program specialist in administering local, state and federal funding programs.

Mrs. Lyon was an avid traveler, once ambitiously taking three of her sons on a camping trip around Europe in 1974 in an Audi they bought through the company’s European delivery program. She counted membership in the local League of Women Voters, where she served as co-president alongside Carole Harter from 1999 to 2001, among her civic involvements.

Ultimately, William and Jocelyn divorced. She remarried for the first time to Ernest O’Byrne, who was also a very avid traveler. They took many trips together, one of the more adventurous being a journey on the Trans-Siberian railway from Europe to China. Later, at the robust age of 81,  Joce and her son Jim traveled to the Incan capital of Machu Picchu in Peru, hiking up, down and around the mountains while there.

Sadly, Ernie predeceased Joce by 20 years in 1995. Fortunately for her, though, while walking in Claremont’s botanic garden one day, Thomas Burdick introduced himself to her. Tom became Joce’s third husband when the two of them married in 1999. In 2002, Jocelyn and Tom moved into the Mount San Antonio Gardens retirement center in Claremont, where they both enjoyed the rest of their lives.

Jocelyn is survived by her four sons, Douglas of Claremont, Kilbourne of Arizona, Donald of Glendora and James of La Jolla; her three grandsons, Fredrik, Johan and Samuel of Claremont; her daughter-in-law Carina of Claremont, and her brother Edward Foulke of Naples, Florida.

A memorial service for Mrs. Lyon will be held on Saturday, January 23 at 3 p.m. at the Claremont Friends Quaker meeting hall, located at 727 W. Harrison Ave. in Claremont. All are invited. There will be a casual reception afterward.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Claremont Educational Foundation, 112 Harvard Ave., #191, Claremont, CA 91711, or to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, 34 Washington St., Suite 200, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481.

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