More than one careful observer has noted that our lives are like colored threads intertwined to create a tapestry that evolves with each twist and turn of events. My first encounter with Ted Lyon was during fall 2000, when I asked him to contribute an article about interdisciplinary education for Bridges (http://kennedy.byu.edu/bridges/pdfs/BridgesWin01.pdf). The resulting piece revealed a great deal about Lyon’s passion for learning and teaching. “Life is simply not a single, compartmentalized major,” he declared, and his life has borne that out.
Lyon’s father, T. Edgar, was named the historian for Nauvoo Restoration in 1963. On the board of directors was a man named David M. Kennedy. As Lyon’s father made regular summer visits to Nauvoo, a long-lasting friendship formed between T. Edgar and Kennedy. This relationship and the Kennedy name would mean much more to Ted Lyon years later.
Lyon was raised in the community of East Mill Creek in the southeast sector of the Salt Lake Valley. He became a “mountain Lyon”: backpacking, fishing, caving, and climbing in the mountains of Utah and Wyoming. At Olympus High School, he participated in football, wrestling, and track. In his junior year he met Cheryl Larsen; they were married in 1962. Among their five children, two are adopted: a girl from Wisconsin and a son from Guatemala. “We thrill to our sixteen grandchildren,” said Lyon.
After serving a mission to Argentina for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1959 to 1961, Lyon returned to the University of Utah and quite casually took an introduction to Spanish literature course from Ricardo Benavides, a visiting scholar from Chile. That professor and course shifted Lyon’s academic interest from biology to Latin American literature, and set his professional path in a new direction.