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The Life of Geneal William Lyon
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The Life of General William Lyon.png

Total Runtime: 16 Minutes 37 Seconds


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A Life of Achievement


General William Lyon, without question, led an achievement-filled life. Even more impressive is the fact General Lyon’s many accomplishments were wide ranging, as he made his mark as a successful businessman, a decorated member of the military and an active supporter of the community.


More than 60 years ago, William Lyon started building homes for returning military personnel and others attracted to the Golden State. This modest effort evolved to become William Lyon Homes, Inc., which went on to become one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, constructing more than 100,000 new residences in in the western US.

General Lyon’s business success wasn’t limited to homebuilding. During the 1980s, General Lyon established a multifamily real estate company to further diversify his real estate holdings which led to the acquisition, development and management of over 10,000 apartment units. In 1981, he and a partner purchased AirCal, a regional air carrier based in Newport Beach, California. General Lyon served as their Chairman & CEO until 1987 when he merged AirCal with American Airlines. His love of flying then led him to purchase Martin Aviation, a fixed based operator at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, as well to establish Lyon Air Museum.


William Lyon generously shared his business expertise by serving on the boards of a number of companies and was a retired director of American Airlines.

Gen Lyon 1982.JPG


William Lyon has always been an active supporter of community organizations. After 30 years of service, he retired as a director on the Segerstrom Center For The Arts Board, having been a former chairman. General Lyon was the founding chairman of the Orangewood Children’s Foundation, and served as a chairman of Boy Scouts of America, Orange County Council. Additionally, he served as board chairman of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of The United Way.

General Lyon attended USC in the 1940s and later served as a Lifetime Trustee. Additionally, he served on the board of USC Marshall School of Business and as a member of the President’s Cabinet of Chapman University.

Lyon Air Museum Ribbon Cutting 12-9-2009


Given his long history of achievement, William Lyon has deservedly received numerous honors, including: the United States Air Force Academy Distinguished Service Award (November 2005); Ernst & Young’s National Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Real Estate category, November 2005); Operation Smile’s Corporate Humanitarian Award (October 2005); USC Marshall School of Business Leadership Award (September 2005); Distinguished Public Service Award presented by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (May 2005); Chapman University’s Presidential Medal in Business and Entrepreneurship Award (2004); and, Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Southern California (May 2002).

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