Max Jeffrey Lyon, 64, of Austin, TX, passed away Feb. 20, in his home, surrounded by the ones that loved him deeply and who will forever miss him.
A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Mar. 15 at The Jefferson Cemetery in Jefferson. Rev. Deb Griffin of Central Christian Church will officiate. Al Naylor, family friend, will give the eulogy and play the trumpet. The United States Army Honor Guard will provide military rites.
Max was born on Feb. 12, 1950 in Jefferson to Marvin and Pauline Lyon. He was blessed to be raised in a caring and cohesive family with his sister Margo and his brother Jack. Max received an excellent education from kindergarten to high school in Jefferson and was very fortunate to have played in the high school band under the direction of Jack Oatts. Because of Jack, Max became devoted to playing the trombone.
In 1968, he left home to attend Drake University in Des Moines, to pursue his first passion, music. Upon his graduation, he enlisted in the Army and spent the next three years as a trombonist for the West Point military band. He later left the Army to pursue his musical career in New York City. During and after his military service, Max formed a strong bond with his mentor and teacher, Alan Raph, a well-known, highly sought after New York City bass trombonist. With the guidance he received from Alan, Max’s professional career was beginning to take off in New York. It was during this period in Max’s life that he met his great love, Donna. Although his aspirations for success as a profession trombonist were strong, he had a greater need to have a stable loving home and family. He and Donna, with her two small children, moved back to Iowa where Max and Donna were married on Valentine’s Day in 1977 by Pastor Clinton Meininger in Max’s childhood home.
While it was never a dream of his to teach, Max became a band director in Bellevue. He taught high school band in Iowa for seven years before entering the University of Iowa as a graduate student in the Department of Music. After graduation with his Master’s in music performance, he led the Johnson County Landmark Jazz Band at UI for two years.
During the summer of 1987, Max and his family moved to Austin, Texas, after accepting a position as an assistant band director with Ron Battani, a former celebrated Des Moines high school band director. Max taught music in the Austin Independent School system for twenty-three years before retiring in 2010. Max was an accomplished musician who composed and arranged music while playing in bands, shows and dances throughout his adult life.
Max was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) during the summer of 2011. On Feb. 20, his long struggle with the disease came to an end and the world lost a sweet, talented and intelligent man.
Max is survived by his adoring wife Donna of Austin, Texas; step-children: daughter Michelle and her husband Paul Wilson of Austin, Texas and son David Horne of San Antonio, Texas; his much loved grandchildren: Stephanie and Graydon Wilson of Austin, Texas; sister and brother-in-law Margo and Joe Crane of Tucson, Arizona; two sisters-in-law, who loved him as a brother: Trish Luffel of Houston, Texas and Janie Gray of Austin, Texas; sister-in-law Diane Lyon of Ames; two nephews: Jay and his wife Tina Lyon of Des Moines and Rich Lyon of Ames.
He was preceded in death by his brother Jack in 1993.
If ever there was an example of a man who represented the best that humanity could be, it would be Max.
A memorial service will be held in Austin, Texas in April, 2014.
Slininger-Rossow Funeral Home in Jefferson assisted the family with arrangements, 515-386-2171, www.sliningerrossowfuneralhome.com