Raymond George Lyon of Matamoras, Pa., dies at age 96

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Raymond George Lyon of Matamoras, Pa., passed away peacefully early Friday morning, Dec. 27, 2018, at Orange Regional Medical Center, Middletown, N.Y., after a brief illness. He was 96.

He was preceded in death by his wife of almost 70 years, Carol Ollear Lyon; his daughter Carolyn; and granddaughter Stacey Beth Pearce.

Born April 28, 1922, in the bedroom where he slept most of his adult life, Ray was the son of the late Harold “Skip” and Ethel Grace Lyon. He traced his family lineage in America back to the early 1600s, and he was particularly proud that one branch of his family tree descended from George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball.

A graduate of Matamoras High School, he worked briefly on the Erie Railroad, where his father had been a boilermaker and his grandfather an engineer, before enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he served as a medic on air bases in England and France during World War II.

While on the ship to England, he was asked by one of his fellow servicemen if he would mind giving him a haircut using a pair of surgical scissors. Ray had never cut hair, but obliged the man’s request and delivered what he recalled as a “real hack job.” Soon, however, he found his services in demand. He sent home for a proper pair of barber scissors and a comb, and became proficient at cutting hair. After the war, he looked into becoming a barber but learned he would have to apprentice for several years before he could open his own shop, so he used the G.I. Bill to go to beauty school in New York City. He operated Ray’s Beauty Shop, first in Milford, Pa., then in Port Jervis, N.Y., for more than 25 years. He married his sweetheart, Carol Ollear, bought the family homestead in Matamoras from his father, and settled down to raise a family of five children.

Ray was an avid outdoorsman who loved to fish and hunt. He could identify any tree, plant, wild mushroom or bird just by the sound of its call. A lifelong fly fisherman, he loved to fish for trout in his beloved Raymondskill and Sawkill creeks in Milford. He tied his own flies and built his own fly rods and after retirement, enthusiastically took up the craft of making split-bamboo fly rods from the raw materials to the finished product. He frequently attended the Catskill Rodmakers Gathering in Roscoe, N.Y., with his son Paul, who inherited his love of fly fishing. In addition to fishing, Ray was an avid deer hunter and hobbyist gunsmith.

Ray was also an accomplished singer and tenor soloist, having once performed during a variety show at Carnegie Hall in New York City. He was active for many years in the Port Jervis Barbershop Chorus, including its main quartet. He sang for many years in the adult choir at the Deerpark Reformed Church, where he was a member most of his adult life, served on the Consistory, and taught Sunday School. Ray was an avid reader and historian, and was a master at solving crossword puzzles. Earlier in life, he grew a large vegetable garden every summer, and loved to make homemade bread, bread-and-butter pickles and grape jam. He was a natural-born mechanic and handyman who took great pride in keeping up his home. He was a champion horseshoe player.

A sober man of 42 years, Ray was the embodiment of God’s grace — humble, forever grateful, peaceful and serene. He was a devoted father and a kind, caring, generous, and gentle man who was loved by everyone he met. He knew what it meant to live in the moment and appreciate the little things in life, viewing the world with the curiosity and wonder of a child. Freed from the bondage of ego, every moment of his life was focused on the people and things around him. He even delighted in the surroundings of the senior care facility where he spent the last year and a half of his life. He was a simple man who wanted for nothing, and lived a long and relatively healthy life. He personified the phrase “a life well-lived.” He will be deeply missed by his family and friends.

Surviving are sons David and his wife, Laurie, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., Richard and his wife, Denise, of Matamoras, and Paul of Clarks Summit, Pa.; daughter, Laurie and her husband, Kim, of Matamoras; eight grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Jan. 5, at 11 a.m. in the Deerpark Reformed Church, 30 East Main St., Port Jervis, N.Y., with his grandson and Seminarian Elder Zachary K. Pearce officiating. Friends may call at the church at 10 a.m. A luncheon will follow in the church hall after the service. All are invited to stay for food, fellowship and to share their remembrances of Ray. Memorial contributions may be made to the Deerpark Reformed Church.

Arrangements are by the Stroyan Funeral Home, Milford.

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