By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — Friday’s ceremony honoring Dr. Harold “Hal” C. Lyon Jr. with the Mensa Educational and Research Foundation’s 2017 Intellectual Benefits to Society Award also served as a family reunion, a gathering of friends, and a military reunion.
Lyon’s son, Lt. Col. Gregg Lyon, acted as master of ceremonies for the event at Church Landing, with fellow Marine Dave Kutcher stepping up to introduce Dist. 1 Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, himself a Marine.
The main presentation by Deb Stone, treasurer of American Mensa, was a crystal trophy honoring Lyon for his decades-long career in the field of education, specifically his work in governance and policy-setting in the field of gifted children.
“Dr. Lyon worked to broaden the federal definition of gifted and talented to include divergent-thinking creative children, and he worked with Sen. Jacob Javits to pass the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act,” according to the Mensa Foundation. “The federal definition of gifted and talented was broadened from the strictly high IQ and academically gifted children to include those with more diverse gifts, including divergent-thinking creative children, the artistically talented, gifted young leaders or the psycho-socially gifted. In addition, it resulted in more effective ways to identify and help the gifted and talented from low-income and diversely ethnic populations.”
Stone said she was “personally thrilled” to present the award to Lyon, saying he “continues to work for the benefit of the world around him.”
Lyon thanked his “loyal friends and supporters for coming out in the rain.”
Pointing out friends in the audience who also had made contributions to their families and their country, a modest Hal Lyon said anyone in the room was as deserving or more deserving than he of the award.
He noted that Kutcher and his wife, Lorraine, had recently saved lives when they pulled a man and a boy from a smoking truck before it burst into flame. Lyon’s son, Gregg, while on a restricted military mission to take an airfield, found armed combatants and, rather than shooting them, he took along a translator and advised them to drop their weapons and run, which they did.
He continued with examples of other friends in the audience who had done their parts, including crediting his wife, Karin, with helping to ensure her mother would not have to enter a nursing home.
However, Lyon’s own accomplishments were not minor, as Kenney noted in presenting a proclamation from the Governor and Executive Council.
“He himself is one of the gifted and talented,” Kenney said, saying his contributions changed the way the world viewed others. “He made us all a student of persons.”
In the speakers’ words and in a slide show prepared for his 80th birthday celebration, two years ago, Lyon’s accomplishments were shown to extend far beyond advocacy for gifted students. Known locally for his popular fishing book, “Angling in the Smile of the Great Spirit,” Lyon has written 10 books and more than 150 articles on education and leadership, but that also is just part of the story.
He graduated from West Point in 1958 and served as a Ranger Army officer, company commander of the 101st Airborne Division, and pioneered new strategies for counter-guerrilla warfare.
When the military was called in to ensure peace during James Meredith’s entry as the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi, Lyon was there to assist the effort. (In the movie “Forrest Gump” where Tom Hanks’ character is blended into archival footage, Hal Lyon is seen speaking on the telephone.)
Lyon earned a master’s degree from George Washington University and a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, later serving as assistant to the president at Ohio University and as assistant deputy US Commissioner of Education. While there, he became one of the architects for the development of the influential “Sesame Street” program.
Among his other accomplishments in developing effective teaching strategies is his work in Munich, Germany, where he teaches physicians innovative methods of teaching.
He told those gathered at Church Landing that there are two keys to success in anything.
“One is grit: that determination that will not be denied,” he said.
“The second is that tenderness is strength. It took some crises in my life to discover that. But it’s all about love — for work, for family, and for self, because if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love anything else.
“We’re all imperfect, and it’s those imperfections that make us people,” he said. “When you recognize that, then you’re poised to make better contributions to others.”
Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, right, reads a proclamation recognizing Dr. Harold Lyon Jr. for his lifelong contributions. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)
Dr. Harold Lyon Jr. accepts the 2017 Intellectual Benefits to Society Award, presented by Deb Stone, treasurer of the Mensa Foundation. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)
- Written by Tom Caldwell
- Category: Local News
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