BANGOR – Thomas Sean Lyons, 53, died April 3, 2014, from an unusual form of dementia: Primary Progressive Aphasia Dementia. In the hopes of finding a cure, Tom gave his brain to research. Even in death, his giving spirit was evident. He touched many with his boyish smile, and accommodating nature. Yet, it is the word “helping” that most captures the essence of Tom.
He was born Oct. 9, 1960, in Quincy, Ill., but spent his formative years in Keegan, Maine, where he attended Van Buren schools. He was a Boy Scout, and exemplified Eagle Scout values throughout his life. In high school, Tom played Tuba in the band, excelled in Track, and was a member of the National Honor Society, with distinction. Graduating high school in 1978, and through ROTC, he entered Maine Maritime Academy, majoring in Engineering. While there, he again played Tuba, was part of the Marching Corps and on the Academy’s Rugby team. Additionally, he was active in Castine’s Community Services. He graduated and entered the Navy simultaneously on April 16, 1983. Some of his Specialty Assignments were as a Damage Control Assistant and Administrative Officer, earning a First Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and Navy Battle Efficiency “E” Award. He served 1984-1986 on the USS Leader (Mine Sweeper 490), and 1986-1988 on the USS Nashville (LPD 13) at Norfolk, Va. Tom was proud to be a Lieutenant and honoring his duty for six years, until April 15, 1989.
After his military service, he worked on Texas Oil Tankers. Following this, Tom returned to Maine, choosing the occupation of an Oil Burner Technician, for Irving and Dead River Companies. He was thought of so well, that customers often asked for him, especially. Hardworking, sweet and caring were also attributes well-deserved to describe him. His last employment was with Waldo County Belfast Hospital in Maintenance, leaving in October 2010. Tom enjoyed his job there and valued the comradeship he felt with his co-workers, a special and supportive group of people.
Tom loved hiking, enjoying the forest as he made his way to the top of a hill or mountain. Living in the city, this passion went into the form of walks, developing into habitual routes. It was a reflection of the structured and disciplined aspect of his personality. It carried him through difficult times and sadness. 2011 he resided at Sylvia Ross Assisted Living, a significant support system and his home in a critical time in his life. He entered Winterberry Heights/Memory Care Unit in 2012, remaining there, until his passing, among close and caring staff.
Tom gave blood to the Red Cross faithfully, seeing its significance for others. He loved Folk Group concerts, (pleased to have met Noel “Paul” Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary and James Taylor personally); Contradancing was another passion of his. Many friendships began through it. Tom especially liked the TV series, ‘The Waltons,’ which expressed a lot of family values he was raised to believe in.
The youngest of six kids, he was inundated with “what he SHOULD do in life.” Taking it so seriously, he retained that childhood innocence needed in following the code of “Do unto others, as you would have them, do unto you.” Very connected to family, he had a close relationship with his mother, and bonded especially with his brother, Brian, who has Down Syndrome. So much so, he was his Primary Guardian after the deaths of his parents.
He loved dogs: childhood pets, Chief, Leo and Taffy. In adulthood, cats, Mahoosah (nicknamed “Hootie”), and Goliath, were thought of fondly, as well.
Church attendance at St. Teresa in Brewer and his participation there as a part of the folk group were always strongholds, and an immeasurable comfort to him.
Predeceased were his parents, Paul A. and Margaret E. (McBrien) Lyons; and his oldest sister, Margaret Jane (Lyons) Parker. Surviving are siblings, William J. Lyons, Ruth A. (Lyons) Hurd, Paul J. Lyons, and Brian Lyons; nieces, Kristian, Erica, and Jenny, and Jessica; nephews, Ryan, David, Sean, Kyle, and John; great-nieces, Sophia, Katya, Anna, Klara, and Ellie; great-nephews, Finn, Anton, Vanya, Misha, Pasha, Zachary, and Anthony. The spouses of his siblings, Bills’ wife, Kitty (now deceased) and Tom had a unique kinship (both having brain deteriorating diseases), Paul’s kind-hearted wife, Holly, held a soft spot in Tom’s heart, and Ruth’s supportive-natured husband, Arlan, Tom’s Best Man at his wedding, played a role in Tom’s life as well.
Tom married Kimberley Wiles on July 4, 1998. They divorced on Dec. 8, 2008. Despite it, emotionally, Tom always perceived himself as her husband, his Catholic faith so evidently displayed. He took care of her both financially and in spirit, helping her with ‘husband-like’ things as yard needs, repairing, snow plowing, and occasional transportation. Their connection as Appalachian Trail hikers “Tumbleweed” (Tom) and “Trail Snail” (Kim) were special memories.
Tom had “heart,” and faced many life challenges: Losing his father early at the age of 24, Alcoholism, Significant Military experiences, Divorce, and PPA Dementia. Most would have “cracked” under the pressure. His accepting nature aided him in coping with all.
Although not philosophical by nature, Tom felt and embraced Henry David Thoreau’s words: “I went to the woods…deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could…learn what it had to teach;…Not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Tom Lived.
A Memorial/Wake will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at Brookings-Smith, 133 Center St., Bangor. Immediately following will be a full hot dinner-buffet at the Family Reception Center, 163 Center St., Bangor.
In lieu of flowers, Research donations in his name may be made to Northwestern CNADC, 320 E. Superior St., Searle Building, Chicago, IL 60611. Please make check payable to CNADC and on the Memo line, write PPA-LYONS. All donations are fully tax deductible.