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Kenneth H. Lyons

March 18, 1924 April 6, 2021
Kenneth H. Lyons
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Obituary for Kenneth H. Lyons
Kenneth Hugh Lyons, retired US Navy Captain, Certified Financial Planner and longtime Portsmouth, Rhode Island resident died peacefully of non-COVID related natural causes at the Rhode Island Veteran’s Home (RIVH) in Bristol, RI on April 6, 2021. Recently Ken celebrated his 97th birthday with family members at the RIVH.
Born in Ruston, Louisiana he was raised in Dallas, Texas. Ken graduated #2 academically from his1200-person Dallas Technical High School class. Ken attended the US Naval Academy but his 1946 graduation (with honors) and commissioning were accelerated to 1945 because of World War II. Like many of his generation, Ken’s commitment to service, love of country and willingness to work hard and sacrifice were unwavering.
Subsequently, Ken attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), earning a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. Ken was a career naval officer and he became a naval aviator. He underwent extensive intelligence and Chinese language training for diplomatic assignment as Assistant US Naval Attaché, Taipei, Taiwan. Following this, he commanded a carrier-based attack squadron ( VA-75) supporting the Cuban missile blockade and preparing the squadron for deployment to Vietnam.
Ken’s naval career highlights were many and included several major commands. He commanded a carrier-based air group onboard USS Intrepid (CVS-11). He was commanding officer of the fleet oiler USS Allagash (AO-97), homeported in Newport, RI. Ken graduated from the US Naval War College in Newport and became a staff instructor of foreign students in the Naval Command College at the War College.
Ken Lyons was the last operational commanding officer of the USS Wasp (CVS-18) aircraft carrier homeported at Quonset Point, RI. This ship had been the US Navy’s most advanced anti-submarine warfare aircraft carrier when Quonset Point was a vibrant Navy port and airfield in the late 60s.
After the Navy, Ken entered the world of insurance and investments, putting down roots on Aquidneck Island, building a seaside home in Portsmouth. He became president of Newport Rotary, he bought a private aircraft that he and his wife, Benny, and their dog, Trinket, flew to the Bahamas each year.
Ken continued to work hard helping others and became a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). He was the founding president of the International Association of Financial Planning (IAFP), Greater Rhode Island chapter.
He and his wife of over 60 years, Benny, traveled the world when they weren’t hosting parties with interesting people. Benny K. Lyons died on his birthday in 2006. Ken was an active parishioner of St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, RI and served briefly as Treasurer. For ten years Ken was married to Norma C. Rettick of Newport, divorcing in 2017.
Ken served as President of the Newport Historical Society for several years assisting in its revitalization. He was a member of the Clambake Club, the Quinicum Club and the USNA Alumni Association.
Ken is lovingly survived by his two children, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren: daughter, Kim Elizabeth (Lyons) Boniface of San José, CA and son, Scott Kenneth Lyons of Warren, RI. His older son, Erik Gordon Lyons, died in 1966. Surviving grandchildren include: John D. Boniface, San Jose, CA, Robin (Boniface) Akin, Oceanside, CA, Zachary K. Lyons, Warren, RI, and Jordan S. Lyons and Lydia K. Lyons of Boston, MA. All great grandchildren live in California.
A beautiful memorial service was held outdoors led by the Reverend Jennifer Pedrick at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Portsmouth, RI on Saturday, April 10, 2021. Private reception was held at the DeWolf Tavern in Bristol, RI. Ken’s body was cremated and his ashes will be scattered in the Sakonnet River near his Portsmouth home according to his wishes.
“Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service and character.” This William Arthur Ward quote is how two young naval officers who had served under Ken Lyons aboard the USS Wasp characterized him in 2015. After 45 years, these two men, retired attorney, Jim Clair, of New York City, and retired businessman, Bill Perry, of Maine came to honor Ken for being such a leader, mentor and friend at his Portsmouth retirement home. Ken Lyons was a truly extraordinary person who had an exceptional life. He was loved by many and will be greatly missed.
Memorial donations honoring Kenneth H. Lyons may be made to the Potter League for Animals, Middletown, RI, the USO,Washington, DC, the Newport Historical Society, Newport, RI and/or the USNA Foundation, Annapolis, MD.
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