It is with profound regret that the staff and directors of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy acknowledge the passing yesterday, June 17, 2004, of one of its closest and long-time friends, Rolland B. (“Bob”) Lyons, after a valiant struggle with cancer.
Along with his good friend, Joe Fitzsimmons, Bob recently joined the board of directors of the Mackinac Center and co-chaired the organization’s Ann Arbor area board of advisors. Together, Bob and Joe built that advisory board into an impressive roster of local entrepreneurs and civic leaders.
Joe Fitzsimmons expressed the sentiments of many with these words: "He was a very generous guy who gave back to his community in many ways. He was my best friend because he always told me the truth. He believed deeply in the principles and policies of the Mackinac Center and practiced what he preached. He will be missed, but his spirit, passion for life and leadership will live on forever in those he inspired."
Bob was born in Ann Arbor in 1930 and lived in several Michigan cities before graduating from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1948. He served the nation in Korea as an Army 2nd Lieutenant. After attending the Business School at the University of Michigan, he founded Michigan Trenching Service, Inc., in 1954. The company is a prime contractor engaged in the construction of underground facilities for gas, communication and electric utility companies. Bob was active as president of his state and national trade associations and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, and on various boards and groups associated with hospitals, higher education, commerce and political affairs.
In his own endearing way, modest and self-effacing, Bob liked to call himself “just a ditch-digger from Ann Arbor.” But those who knew him knew he was a gentle giant of a man. He was passionate about the things in which he believed. His infectious optimism and “let’s get it done” attitude never left him, even in his last days. Every conversation with Bob was a thrill of an experience; he challenged you with tough questions, or inspired you with his energy, or made you laugh with a memorable joke or one-liner, or offered keen insights that helped you accomplish great things. On most occasions, he did all those things at the same time, in the same conversation.
He leaves behind his beloved wife Jan, daughter Suezahn and son Rob, and a huge, untold number of friends, admirers, and people whose lives are better because of what he did and said over a remarkable lifetime.
----Lawrence W. Reed
Mackinac Center for Public Policy
June 18, 2004
New Item - posted on October 29, 2004:
Congressional Record Tribute in honor of Bob Lyons
Published in the Ann Arbor News on MLive.com on 6/19/2004:
Rolland B. (Bob) Lyons Bob passed away Thursday in the serenity of his home and gardens with his family at his side. Bob had just completed a year long battle with what cancer would consider one of its greatest adversaries. Fighting an unending and spirited contest, only relenting when he knew his business on earth was complete, that all that knew and loved him were at peace and comforted. Bob's time on this earth is abounding with accolades, achievements and honors. All of which were earned by an unswerving dedication and commitment to community, company and country. Of all his honors; the greatest, was the opportunity for him to give back; to champion the cause and to directly persuade the rest of us to get onboard. Only one thing surpassed Bob's love for giving, that being his love for friends, life and most of all his family. Always witnessed by the energy he put forth and devotion to all of us. A Memorial Service will be held on Monday June 21, 2004 at the First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor. 120 South State St @ Huron St, Ann Arbor, MI. 48104. The Family will be greeting friends @ 3 PM, Memorial service @ 4PM. No Flowers Please. Memorial Gifts can be made to Hospice of Michigan or Charity of your choice.