Sunday, October 19, 2003

Michael Lyons, shown here with his wife, Mette, has played an important role as adviser to many nonprofit groups, including the Lahaina Restoration Foundation and the Boy Scouts.

Public service
is in Lyons’ blood

Michael Lyons and his children
are active in the Maui community

WAILUKU >> If a nonprofit group on Maui needs help, Michael Lyons -- like his father before him -- is there.


Lyons said working for the betterment of the community came from watching his father, Raymond "Doc" Lyons, former president of Maui Electric Co., who was active in working with community organizations, including the Boy Scouts.

And Lyons' work is rubbing off on his children:

His 35-year-old son, Anders, serves as director of Maui programs for the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii; daughter Kristina helps raise funds for the Maui Arts & Cultural Center as its development director; and youngest son Henrik works in wildlife services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Community leaders say Lyons has played an important role as adviser to many nonprofit groups, including the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, Rotary Club, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Maui Chamber of Commerce and the Maui County Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

State Board of Education member Meyer Ueoka said that, although retired, Lyons has continued to help the Boy Scouts, his latest role as vice president for endowment.

"Mike Lyons is one of the top citizens of Maui," Ueoka said. "He's been good to the Boy Scouts and kids in Maui County."

Lyons, 67, is undergoing treatment for renal cancer and staying with his wife, Mette, in California.

His father, a retired Navy rear admiral and grandson of Irish immigrants who settled in Gardiner, N.Y., settled on the Valley Isle after marrying Barbara Baldwin, granddaughter of Henry P. Baldwin, a founder of Alexander & Baldwin Inc. Barbara was an author, and her work included a number of children's books.

Mike Lyons said his parents were family-oriented and his father gave him an appreciation of the outdoors and working with people.

"He led by example," Lyons said. "I think integrity is the key, being truthful, respecting the community, understanding we're all members of the community."

Lyons said during his summers home from college, he worked stacking cases at Maui Pineapple Co., earning $1.25 an hour in 1955.

"It was good work," he said. "It made you appreciate a lot of things and (think how) I can do better with myself."

Son Anders recalled one of his best experiences in life occurred when he was 6 years old, when he hiked with his family in the crater.

"It started raining. I just loved it," he said. "I've been in the crater countless times since then."

Daughter Kristina said she was a bit resistant when her father encouraged her to look at working for "do-gooder organizations" when selecting a career.

But she found herself drawn to blending art with Hawaiiana, partly because of her experience in dancing the hula and also visiting museums on trips to her mother's native Denmark.

"We just seemed to fall into it," she said.

Gladys Baisa recalled how effective Lyons can be. She had been looking for more than 10 years for a permanent office site for her nonprofit group, Maui Economic Opportunity Inc., an organization that provides social services to the elderly, handicapped and poor.

Lyons, who had heard about her search, approached her with the idea of developing a site on the Cameron Center property in Wailuku.

Lyons, chairman of the Cameron Center, was also vice president and regional manager of Bank of Hawaii on Maui and helped Maui Economic Opportunity obtain a development loan through the financial institution.

Baisa said Lyons also helped to obtain a major loan for the group's business development corporation, enabling families to obtain $5,000 "mini" loans for startup enterprises, including child-care services.

"It was Mike who made it happen," said Baisa, executive director of Maui Economic Opportunity.

"If there's a cause, Mike is right there to try and help."


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