Vernon "Bud" Lyons, age 84, passed away peacefully on Dec. 24th after a long illness. Bud was born on September 12th, 1929 in Greensboro, NC and was raised in the Ocean View beach area of Norfolk, VA. In his early years as a football player for the University of Tennessee national championship team of 1951, he was affectionately known as "Buddy Lyons," number 92.
Bud Lyons has had a beloved and successful life as a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Other than his family, his pride and joy was his years of playing football for the legendary General Robert Neyland at the University of Tennessee from 1948 to 1951. There are very few, if any waiters or waitresses at his favorite haunts, who have been able to escape seeing his national championship ring or hearing stories of being the starting left offensive "running" guard for two bowl games and the 1951 Cotton Bowl national championship game.
Bud always remembered that General Neyland took a strong liking to him because he reminded him of his favorite player, C. Bowden Wyatt. General Neyland once told Bud, You'll never play football - you're too light - but I guarantee you'll graduate." When Neyland explained why he offered Bud a scholarship, he said, "I gave it to you because you reminded me of my favorite player, Bowden Wyatt. I never thought you'd play."
However, Bud did play as the first string "running guard" on the 1951 national championship team in the Cotton Bowl against Texas. Bud also played in the Sugar Bowl. He was listed at 180 pounds but played at 172. He played all four years and proudly graduated from the University of Tennessee.
In 1952, while waiting for his orders to go with the Army to South Korea, Bud was the freshman line coach for General Neyland and the Tennessee Volunteers. There was not a man that Bud admired more and acknowledged learning more from than his respected coach and father figure. Bud's #92 framed jersey still hangs in his home.
Bud's father died when he was only 9 years old and football was his only option for college. Bud recalled that his mother told him that if he ever wanted to attend college, he would need to play football because the money was not there. Bud graduated from Granby High School in Norfolk, VA in 1948. He was also equally proud of the high school state championships during his tenure at Granby.
Bud graduated from the University Tennessee with a BS degree in Business Administration in 1953. He served one term as a Director on the University of Tennessee Athletic Board; was President of the Tennessee Monogram Club; Vice President of Student Government, and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa (O.D.K) Fraternity.
Bud served as the Company Commander the U.S. Army Transportation Core in Wonju, South Korea from 1953-1954. Bud spent 8 years in active duty and the reserves. He served as both a 1st and 2nd Lieutenant in active duty and then later as Captain in the reserves.
Bud eventually settled in Albany, Georgia where he raised three children and owned Lyons Appliance and Lighting Fixtures for many years. Bud was elected on the Democratic ticket to be a City Commissioner in Albany in December of 1966, where he served for 4 years. He was instrumental in the development of a new city hall, which still has a plaque in his honor today. Bud also was proud of his role as the Exalted Ruler of Elks Club 713 in Albany.
Bud spent his professional career largely in the appliance and lighting sales field working for such notable companies as GrayBar, Chrysler Airtemp, and Magic Chef. Bud and his beloved wife, Joyce, started Lyons Company, a custom embroidery business in 1981. Bud retired in1991 from the company his wife still operates.
Bud's true passion was talking and telling stories. He had a keen mind for history and remembered every highway, restaurant, and hotel in the country due to his years in sales. He was an excellent cook, and was known for his deviled eggs and baked beans. He also loved talking about stocks and could quote anything written by Jim Kramer.
Bud was also fond of reminding his loved ones of his favorite quotes. His children were raised on two in particular: "When you are green, you are growing. When you are ripe you are rotten." And his favorite: "Defeat cannot live in the same room with determination and persistence."
This last quote was vital to Bud surviving his share of health setbacks. Given "just six months to live" more than 20 years ago, Bud has had more than 39 cancer surgeries. He bounced back so many times that it was easy to believe that he lived that motto about determination. He has been in and out of doctors' offices, outpatient VA facilities, emergency rooms, and hospitals such as MD Anderson more than 100 times. One of Bud's best friends, retired hospital CEO Red Kulpan, stated that he knows of "no one who has more plain guts than Bud." It is something General Neyland would be proud of.
Bud's loving family includes his wife, Joyce; daughters Dee Lyons and Beverly Giddens (Robert); son Charles Lyons; grandchildren Greg Lyons; Brad Giddens; and Candace Mincey (Travis). He was proud of his newest addition, great-grand daughter McKenna Mincey.