Grandma Lyons

Submited by Paul VanHoy

Back last summer my Wife Ruth (Milligan) & I were on the grounds of Depauw Univ. looking for any fact about the old Methodist Churches of Martin County, in particular Love Methodist. Well, in the process we were given this.

Indianapolis News/ March 18, 1969

Grandma Lyon Lives In Church, Tends Cemetery

by Norman Bess Staff Reporter

Loogootee, IND. - The little old lady who lived in a shoe didn't have a thing on the little old lady who lives on a hill outside Loogootee.

The only things on the hill are a church and a cemetery and Grandma Vera K. Lyons, 72, lives in one and tends to the other.

A white haired widow living in a reconditioned Methodist Church and fighting back the weeds and nurturing the flowers in its small cemetery where her farmer husband has been buried these last five years are elements enough to build a story.

But, put grandma in girlish pose in her great-granddaughter's bathing suit and enter in national "Glamour Grandmother" contest and you're really on to something.

"I'd really like to win that contest," said Mrs. Lyon, as she swirled butter yellow icing on a cake with a practiced hand, "but when they see that picture, I've lost. I won't have a ghost of a chance."

Grandma Lyon (as she knows) doesn't cone on strong in a bathing suit, but in a floor length "granny" dress. with her silver white hair back in a bob and wearing her best big, smile, she would probably come on pretty strong with most grandpas. She sent a granny dress photo along to show the judges the real her.

Mrs. Lyon is one of more than 4,000 U.S. Grandmas, including a sizable number from Indiana, who have entered the glamour grandmother competition thus far. Because of the response the deadline for entries recently was moved up to April 30. A national pageant for finalists will be held later this year at Horizon, Tex., with the winner in line for everything from a piece of Horizon's real estate to a lifetime supply of cosmetics and a contract to do television commercials.

The contest is being billed as something of a sequel to the Miss America and Mrs. America contests.

Would love to be winner

Mrs. Lyon would dearly love to win it even though she doesn't know who gave her name to contest officials. they contacted her after an anonymous person wrote the Chicago firm she was an ideal grandmother. A relative believes it may have been a favorite nephew who is a member of the Chicago Playboy Club. the Chicago headquarters for the contest is in the Playboy building.

There was some thought that maybe one of the other "girls" in the Grandmother's Club here, of which Mrs. Lyon was a founder, might have entered her name, but that, to, has been ruled out.

"I haven't said anything to them about it," she said. She hasn't shown any of the girls her bathing suit picture yet either, she admitted, and isn't likely to. It would probably cause gossip.

A spokesman for the Chicago public relations firm running the contest said the glamour grandma "will be much more than a pretty looking women." He pointed out some of the entries are real dazzlers, though, including a 65 year--old Ohio Grandma whose vital statistics are 38-24-36.

Such qualities as these notwithstanding, special talents. Including anything from being able to give a dramatic reading to rug making will be considered, the public relations man assured.

The many-talented Mrs. Lyon has won scores of prizes and ribbons with her farm product exhibits at fairs and farm shows. She even once won a hog calling contest. She's also a budding amateur photographer and writes a folksy monthly column for the Farm Bureau Co-op's News of Martin County.


Her Grandma statistics are 8-33-20; --- that's children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, in that order.

She spent her adult married life on a farm just down the gravel road from the Mt. Calvary Methodist Church in which she now lives comfortably. The small church she attended closed in 1962 because it dwindling congregation could no longer support a minister. The property stood idle two years and weeds took over the church yard and the cemetery.

In the fall of 1964, just a few months, after her husband passed away, Mrs. Lyon began negotiation to buy the cemetery so she could keep - it up. She said church officials told her she couldn't buy the cemetery without buying the Church, too.

So she bought them both and she now must certainly rank among the nation's most unusual grandmother landlords.

This article was found along with a letter Grandma Lyon had submitted to Depauw Univ. in regard to the history of Mt. Calvary Church. The Article and letter were a great surprise to Ruth, who is one of her 33 grandchildren. Vera K. Lyon is probably one of the most remembered individuals of Martin County and most liked.

Paul D. VanHoy

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