Deceased February 11, 2020

View alumni profile (log in required)
Read obituary

In Memory

Classmates and friends of Jim Lyon,

Jim was best known to us for his love of the competitiveness of football; becoming Lord Jeff captain, playing both offensive and defensive right guard; then while at Yale Law School as assistant Yale football coach, continuing as Amherst recruiter of top talent for many years; and capped by the National Football Hall of Fame, Connecticut Chapter’s, Distinguished American Award in 1983.

As a Phi Beta Kappa jock himself, Jim quietly took pleasure from the fact that the grade point average of his football squad exceeded that for the College as a whole. He later chaired the Executive Committee for the Amherst College Alumni Council and was awarded Amherst’s Eminent Service Medal.

At reunions, Jim displayed new athletic skills as he wielded a tennis racquet with loosened strings to deliver a wicked top spin winner. Tennis and golf became lifelong outlets, but it was on Hartford’s paddle tennis courts that he reigned supreme.

After Yale, his legal career at Murtha Cullina in Hartford focused on tax exempt and charitable organizations. He quickly became partner and then counsel in 1996. He became a John Woodruff Simpson of Law Fellow, designated one of Best Lawyers in America, an American Bar Association Fellow and on the editorial board for the Connecticut Law Tribune. Jim was a prolific author of professional journal articles and frequent letter writer to the Hartford Courant.

The range of Jim’s civic involvement is astonishing, exemplified by his long trusteeship and board presidency at the nation’s oldest art museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and extending to the Hartford Public Library, the YMCA, St. Francis Hospital, Public Radio and TV, Historical Society and various trusts, associations, museums and educational institutions.

Jim developed close friendships, saying, as a bachelor, that his friends were his family and had a full social calendar. Our class president, Bob Skeele, visited him in his retirement community near Hartford not long before his death on Feb. 11, 2020, and found Jim in great spirits and full of Amherst football lore.

In friendship,

Nick Evans ‘52