U.S. Navy SEAL – Rear Admiral – Mayor of Oceanside
Oceanside CA— Richard “Dick” Lyon, a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy and former Mayor of Oceanside, CA, passed away peacefully at the age of 93 on February 3, 2017 at his home in Oceanside, CA.
Born on July 14, 1923 in Pasadena, CA, Dick was a fifth-generation Californian. In his youth Dick excelled both academically and athletically at John Muir Polytechnic High School and subsequently attended Yale University as a Western Regional Scholar and received his MBA from Stanford University.
While at Yale, Dick set a world’s record on February 13, 1943 as the anchor member of the 400-yard freestyle relay event. He qualified as a member of the 1940 Olympic team but did not compete due to the cancellation of the Olympics due to the onset of WWII. He became an NCAA Champion while captaining the Yale Swim team to an undefeated season and graduated from the Yale School of Engineering with Honors in 1944.
Dick enlisted as a Seaman Recruit in 1942 and after graduating Yale, attended Columbia University Midshipmen’s School where he was a Regimental Commander and received his commission in October of 1944. He served as a Navy Scout and Raider in the Pacific Theater and as a Scout Intelligence Officer in China during WWII. He also served as the Plank Owner of Underwater Demolition Team 5 in Korea until late 1952.
Dick received his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Stanford University in 1953 and continued to serve in the United States Naval Reserve. In 1974 he became the first Special Warfare (SEAL) Admiral in United States Naval History. Dick also served as the Deputy Chief of Naval Reserve from 1978 to 1981. During his third period of extended active duty he also became the SEAL’s “Bullfrog 1”, a designation given to the longest serving member after graduating from BUD/S training. He retired after nearly 41 years of service in 1983.
Dick also had an amazing civilian career that included retail marketing and financial management that included his time as a registered principal with the National Association of Securities Dealers in Newport Beach, CA. Dick was always active in community affairs — he was a member and president of the Oceanside Unified School District Board of Trustees from 1990 to 1992, and was elected as the Mayor of Oceanside in 1992. He served as Mayor for two terms until his retirement in 2000.
Dick’s love of his communities led to his service not only as a public servant in Oceanside but also as a member of numerous volunteer organizations throughout his life. He was a member or president of the Anaheim Rotary Club, Girl Scout Council of Orange County, Oceanside Seagaze Concert Series, Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, Oceanside Rotary Club, American Legion, Old Bold Pilots, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Old Frogs and Seals, Military Order of World Wars, and founder trustee of Children’s Hospital of Orange County. He also was a man of strong Christian conviction and served as a vestry member for several of his local church families.
Dick was an avid pilot, waterman, sailor, body surfer, golfer and racquet ball player. Most importantly Dick was a fantastic father to his 9 children, 14 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren. He is beloved by many and is considered family by those he befriended during his life.
He is predeceased by his son Richard Patrick, and is survived by his wife Cindy of 41 years. His surviving children are Mary, Edward (Val), Sally Ann, Kathryn, Susan, Tricia, Michael, and Sean. He will be dearly missed but never forgotten.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday February 11th at 11am at New Venture Christian Fellowship, located, 4000 Mystra Way in Oceanside, CA. Everyone is welcome to attend and share in the life of an extraordinary man. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations in Lyon’s name to the Navy SEAL Foundation at: navysealfoundation.org