One afternoon about a year and half or so ago I was prowling the back corners of Fondren, just looking around to see what there was to be seen. I noticed for the first time that there’s a plaque on the door at the end of this second floor aisle:
Upon further investigation I discovered that there are actually two study rooms down there with memorial plaques on their doors. The first was instantly recognizable, not to mention self-explanatory:
But the second turned out to be mysterious:
From what I could tell no one named Frank or Della Clark Lyon had ever attended or taught at Rice and there was no record at all of who gave the plaque. I can’t tell you how much this grieves me, by the way. Someone went to the trouble and expense to memorialize these people and it seems to me that it’s asking very little of us to make some effort to remember them. In any event, I quickly ran headlong into a wall. At first I could find nothing at all, then I took several wrong turns, led on by a less than accurate Rice Alumni Directory. So I set the problem aside. But I returned to it several times over the past year, trying different angles, confident that one day I’d figure it out.
That day came last week. I went back to one of the older print versions of the Alumni Directory and found there an alum named Thomas Pinkney Lyon ’31. Pulling on this thread eventually led me to his hometown newspaper, the McGregor, Texas Mirror, where I found a story originally published in the Houston Post about his wedding to Miss Mary Martha Morris, who also attended Rice for a year. It’s a bit fuzzy but if you zoom in you’ll see that his parents are named as “Mr. and Mrs. F.M. Lyon.” So it’s at least possible that this could be them.
So I kept poking around and suddenly there they were. A 1943 story about the history of the Lyon family in McGregor, going back to Civil War times, tells us that Frank Lyon married Miss Della Clark of Hog Creek and that among their children was Thomas Pinkney Lyon, a graduate of the Rice Institute and Baylor College of Medicine:
I would apologize for the fuzzy copies of the Mirror but really, it’s miraculous that you can find them from the living room couch so I’ll just be grateful. Without the Portal to Texas History this might well have been impossible to solve.
Bonus: Spring Break!