James Walton Lyons, a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, went home to heaven on January 10, 2024, three weeks shy of his 95th birthday. He passed away peacefully at home holding Dorothy’s hand, his wife of 74 years, his sweetheart, his best friend and partner in God’s work. To Dorothy, Dr. Lyons was ‘Jim.’ To his two daughters—Carolyn Smith(wife of Denny) and Beverly Deedrick(wife of Gary)—he was ‘Daddy.’ To his four grandchildren—Brent Deedrick, Denny Smith and wife Heather, Melody Bell and husband Chris, Jon Deedrick and wife Lindsay—and also to his eight great grandchildren—Lanissa and husband Kyle, Landon, Cara, Christopher, Caleb, Hadley, Cooper, and Canaan—he was lovingly called ‘Papaw.’ To the former pastoral staff members with whom he served, he was ‘Doc.’ To many of the old-timers he grew with in Garland, TX, and Rose Hill, TX, he was ‘Jimmy.’ And to the thousands of Christians around the world who he influenced for the Gospel, he was ‘Brother Lyons.’
Bro. Lyons was born on January 27, 1929 in Garland, TX, to Floyd and Beulah Lyons. He was nine years younger than his brother Bill (who is deceased). Bro. Lyons grew up just south of Garland in the big metropolis of Rose Hill (population of 78). During his childhood growing up in the Great Depression, to help his family make ends meet, he mowed lawns for widows for 15 cents an hour, worked in the fields picking okra for 25 cents an hour, picked cotton, delivered milk, and worked in a gas station.
The best day of Bro. Lyons’ life occurred when he was 14 years old. At the insistence of one of his friends, he attended a summer revival meeting at the Rose Hill Baptist Church, and he repented of his sin, believed in Christ, and was saved. Bro. Lyons credited his godly mother, his four grandparents, and his pastor for influencing him toward faith in Christ.
After graduating from Garland High School in 1946, Bro. Lyons became very involved singing in quartets. He sang with the Gospelaires Quartet and then the Stamps Jubilee Quartet. Dorothy Blackmon, the pianist for the quartet, caught Bro. Lyons’ eye. Their first date was on Valentines Day 1948, and being that romantic in heart that he was, Bro. Lyons took Dorothy to a donkey basketball game. They eventually were married on Nov. 18, 1949.
When Kraft Foods moved to Garland, Bro. Lyons began a successful ten year career with Kraft. Starting on the shipping dock driving a fork lift, he received promotion after promotion because of his strong work ethic and his commitment to excellence. When he left Kraft he had climbed the corporate ladder to the coveted position as a Division Buyer.
Bro. Lyons had been very involved as a laymen at Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, and in June 1957 he surrendered to the Lord for full-time Christian service. He became associate pastor at Miller Road, known then as the fastest growing church in Texas.
From 1959 to 1965 Bro. Lyons served as Associate Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Hammond, IN. His many duties included starting and directing the bus ministry, overseeing the soulwinning and outreach efforts, helped conduct the annual Pastors School, taught a large adult Sunday School class, plus other duties. During his many years in full-time ministry, despite being very busy, his highest priority was to have a great marriage and to raise godly children.
In March 1965 Bro. Lyons answered the Lord’s call on his life to become an evangelist. The family relocated back to Garland, TX, became members of Lavon Drive Baptist church pastored by Dr. Gary Coleman, and were members at Lavon Drive for over 50 years. As an evangelist, Bro. Lyons held revival meetings in 38 states and conducted over 700 meetings.
Bro. Lyons faithfully carried and distributed Gospel tracts on a daily basis. It became clear to him that God’s plan for his life included writing tracts and providing them to others. He started Tracts by Lyons, and he wrote ‘Select Verses from the Holy Bible’ (known as the little green booklet), ‘Someday You Will Stand Before God,’ and ‘Say Yes Today.’ With millions of copies having been printed in English, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages, they have been used to spread the Gospel around the world.
A Life Well Lived; A Course Well Run; The Faith Well-Kept; A Crown Well Won; Enter Thou Into the Joy of Thy Lord.