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Maurice A.  Lyons: Maurice Augustus Maurice Augustus "Gus" Lyons

Memorial for Maurice A. Lyons

Born in Tyler, Tx on Sep. 2, 1947
Departed on Mar. 29, 2015 and resided in Austin, TX.
Visitation: Monday, Apr. 6, 2015
5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Service: Tuesday, Apr. 7, 2015
11:00 am
Cemetery: Private
Please click on the links above for locations, times, maps, and directions.

Very deep is the well of the past
-Thomas Mann

The deeper we sound the more clearly we see stories and myths that make up the life of each man. Though we are familiar with the names and the choices of those who led national efforts toward racial justice, each community in America needed its own marchers, its own barriers to identify, to call out, to bring down. Maurice A. Lyons (Gus) played his own significant role in that band of Austinites who moved a reluctant city toward a more fair future.

Gus passed away early Sunday morning March 29th in Houston, Texas. Born September 2, 1947 in Tyler, he was the eldest son of Maurice Eugene Lyons and Mary Mildred Manning. Gus's parents were respected educators in east Texas, and they raised him to view education as a privilege that came with a heavy obligation to give back not only to one's community but also to state and country. Graduating from Emmett J. Scott High School in Tyler in 1964 as salutatorian, he went on to earn a Bachelor's degree and later a law degree from the University of Texas. Following his graduation until his death, he stayed involved in various activities surrounding his beloved, the University of Texas and the Austin, Beaumont, Dallas, Lufkin, Orange, New Jersey communities.

As a young man, he advanced civil rights by working as president of the University of Texas chapter of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee), vice-president of the local Black Panthers, a consultant for VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) in which he organized black communities in Arkansas, and as a Community Organizer for the United Church of Christ dealing with police brutality in Beaumont. As well, with dear friend Bill Moran, he developed one of the first economic development corporations in east Austin, expanding services and financial opportunities east of Interstate 35. A breaker of racial boundaries, he worked for the governor's office, the state Attorney's General's office, and the District Attorney's office in Brownwood, Texas. Other notable positions he held included serving as the Executive Director of the Texas Democratic Caucus, an appointment by Anne Richards as State Administrative Law Judge, and he was especially proud of his seat on the board of the Jewish Community Center Association in the late 1980s. Seeking to create a more transparent and just system during the Clinton years, Gus exposed abuses of power in the Travis County attorney's office. In each town that he lived, Austin, Beaumont, Dallas, Orange, New Jersey and back to Austin his focus was on his church, his music and bettering his community.

Gus always sensed that community action alone could not bring change. Change lies instead in choosing how to act and how to relate to others. He understood as he read over and over the works of Martin Buber, Paul Tillich, and Soren Kierkegaard that lasting change lies in relationships, in treating each person as sacred. His deep and abiding friendships which crossed boundaries of race, religion, class and disposition reflected this belief. Well known for his smile, gentleness, and goodwill, he treated people with warmth and openness. A lover of music, swimming, tennis, his church Ebenezer Baptist, and a dedicated reader of history, literature, and philosophy, Gus was a man of diverse talents and interests. He especially liked smoking brisket, sharing his malted ice cream and drinking beer. He had a sharp wit and a great sense of humor throughout the ups and downs of life.

He is survived by his wife Arlene, his children Bess, Gus, Ben, Jenny and Adam, sons-in-law Scott Poehlmann and Emmett Tracy, daughter-in law Elissa Swanger, his brothers Bill and Harold, his sister Esther, his Aunt Goldie and the entire Fitzpatrick family, Aunt Myrtle Sessions, his eight grandchildren, Adam, Austin and Ethan Tal, Ulrich Poehlmann, Milo and Sammy Lyons, and Tomas and Thais Tracy. Other brothers and sisters include Leo Johnson, Sherry West, Anthony Brooks, Betty Mack and Reginald Brooks, Terry Brooks, Annette Brooks, Linda Brooks, Sheila Polk Leggett.


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