Michael Joseph Lyons of West Chester

Michael Joseph Lyons, 72, of West Chester, dies at Chester County Hospital on Dec. 9, after nearly two years of fervently battling pulmonary fibrosis. Born to Irish immigrants John Lyons and Margaret (nee Madigan) Lyons on April 28, 1949, in Philadelphia, Michael and his sister Mary spent his childhood moving around the Main Line as his parents’ careers as a live-in landscaper and maid, respectively, took them to many marvelous estates across the western suburbs.

Michael Joseph Lyons

A life-long golfer, Michael first learned how to play by sneaking onto Merion Golf Club at night with other kids of “the help” from the estate on which he and his family lived. Another estate owner also tried to teach him piano but was less successful than the golfing bandits.

Graduating from Monsignor Bonner in 1967, his mother had dreams of him entering the seminary and becoming a priest. Once it became evident that that was out of the cards for Michael, she was happy to settle for his pursuit of becoming a lawyer. Despite self-proclaiming that he was “bad at math” (and proving it later, as he regularly enlisted his daughter’s help in calculating tips while dining out), Michael graduated easily with a finance degree from Villanova University in 1971. While working full-time at Wanamaker’s, he received his law degree from Widener Law School in 1976 by studying at night. He later passed the bar thanks to help from his best friend and study partner Don Scace with meals provided by Don’s wife Cindy.

After attempting to work for corporate law firms, Michael soon realized his need to break away and start his own practice, moving out to Chadds Ford in pursuit of it. Betting $200 on an Eagles game to continue paying the rent for one of his early offices (they won), he eventually found his way to his first partner in law Steve Lagoy to form Lagoy & Lyons, LLC. He got his big break when he zoned the Glen Eagle Shopping Center. While working at one of their earlier offices above the old Wawa across from Hank’s Place, he met his future wife Barbara Hasson while she waited tables and where he once ordered what she describes as “the strangest order” she has ever received of French toast, scrapple, and chocolate ice cream. Despite this, they were able to put their differences aside and marry in 1989.

In 1992, he became the father to his first and only child, Kelly Lyons, who he continued to co-parent with Barbara after he and Barbara divorced in 1998.

To say he was a doting father is a remarkable understatement. Exceptionally proud of Kelly’s writing, he often sent her college essays and newspaper articles around to his friends to read (who must have been waiting at their inboxes with bated breath). When she scored lower on the math portion of the SAT than she would have liked in high school, he said, “Sorry, that’s my fault.”

The two forged an impenetrable bond over their many shared interests, from history to horse racing. Most importantly though, Kelly became his permanent Villanova basketball date sitting in “The Pavilion,” row 17, seats 8 and 9, yucking it up with Bob Giresi and one of his sons who sat in the row below for more than 20 years. He was quick to teach her that her opinion mattered just as much as any of the guys. Happily indoctrinating her, he filled her closets with Villanova paraphernalia, her voicemail box with updates on the new recruits, and her heart with a fondness for the phrase, “Don’t worry, Kel, there’s plenty of time left, plenty of time.”

After forming Lyons Dougherty, LLC, he remained a fixture in the community as a well-known and respected real estate attorney. It’s hard to find a building in West Chester, Chadds Ford, and the surrounding area that has not been touched by Michael’s diligent pen.

For many years, he was an active member of the Lions Club (which his daughter Kelly thought was named after him until she learned how to spell), helping to organize a number of golf outings and continuing to collect more friends than his daughter could count.

Michael also formed a deep connection with his dear friend Nancy Ribordy, who served as a beloved confidant and fellow adventurer as they traveled to Ireland, played on many golf courses, and regularly watched numerous movies, plays, and musicals together.

A devoted lawyer and worrying father until the end, one of the final things he concernedly asked his daughter Kelly as he knowingly laid in his death bed was, “Do you have work in the morning?” Chuckling, Kelly replied, “No, I’m not going.” To which he responded, “Me neither.”

Together, they watched their final Villanova basketball game holding hands from his hospital bed against old Big East rival Syracuse, where Kelly tried her best to tell him every play. Despite Kelly’s sky-high anxiety, the Villanova Wildcats beat the Orangemen by 14 points.

Michael is survived by his daughter Kelly, her fiancé Blair Stoakley and has made his request known for two grandchildren. Additionally, he is survived by his ex-wife and friend Barbara, dear friend Nancy, nephew Ryan (Jennifer) BeVier, nephew Kevin BeVier, niece Ashley (Joe) Droxler, seven grand-nieces and nephews, and his many doting friends who have overwhelmingly sent their love and support to Kelly.

Michael is predeceased by his mother, father, sister Mary (nee Lyons) BeVier, and beloved brother-in-law Richard BeVier.

His memorial service was Thursday, Dec. 16,  at Logan-Videon Funeral Home, 2001 Sproul Rd., Broomall. In lieu of flowers (though Michael really did like flowers), donations may be sent to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation at www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org. Interment private.

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