General William Lyon (1923-2020)

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General William Lyon was Director Emeritas of William Lyon Homes headquartered in Newport Beach, California. As one of Orange County’s most prominent business leaders, Lyon and his combined companies produced more than 100,000 residential units spanning a history of more than 60 years.

Over the past six decades, General Lyon’s ventures have included some major business acquisitions, namely The Presley Companies and Senior Corp., both homebuilders and developers. Additionally, he acquired and made profitable a regional airline, AirCal, later sold to American Airlines. Prior to his entrepreneurial career, Major General Lyon was Chief of the Air Force Reserve at The Pentagon. This responsibility included management of a $700 million budget which encompassed the activities of 53,000 reservists. During his service, he received 17 awards and decorations including the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and the Presidential Unit Citation.

In addition to his professional career, Lyon was a Life Member of the USC Board of Trustees and served on the boards of the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts, Orangewood Children's Foundation, Boy Scouts of America of Orange County, National Association of Home Builders, and was Chairman of the Board of the Lyon Air Museum in Orange County. Among his numerous accolades, are the Distinguished Public Service Award presented by the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, Washington D.C., May 2005, the 2004 Presidential Medal in Business and Entrepreneurship Award from Chapman University and an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters from the University of Southern California received in 2002.

General Lyon lived in Coto de Caza with his wife, Willa Dean. They had five children. General Lyon passed in May 2020 and left a remarkable legacy. Commercial Bank of California is grateful for his leadership.