The Crowd:

Orangewood programs boosted

May 15, 2009|By B.W. Cook

She has worked for the cause for decades. However, on this night the cause came to salute her. Willa Dean Lyon Willa Dean Lyon was recognized by a crowd of more than 400 guests who came to gave her a standing ovation for nearly 30 years of unwavering commitment to the Orangewood Children’s Foundation.

The recent evening at the majestic Lyon Air Museum adjacent to the grounds of the John Wayne Airport raised more than $500,000 for Orangewood programs. Willa Dean’s husband, Gen. William Lyon, welcomed the guests, informing them that this night was not about him, but rather about his wife, Willa Dean.

A humble tribute to Willa Dean from her highly visible husband set the tone for an evening filled with well-wishes and congratulations from friends, family members and many business associates.


Chaired by Teresa Suryan and emceed by her husband, Frank Suryan, board member of Orangewood, the evening featured a marvelous dinner prepared and served by Antonello Ristorante of South Coast Plaza Village. Nephew Curt Lyon, award-winning film producer, created a video tribute to his aunt that in part featured the words of Willa Dean’s daughter Marcia Stone explaining how her work with foster children at the outset of her career in law enforcement many years ago introduced and involved her mother in what has become a legacy of caring.

Marcia on videotape told the crowd about the emotional experience of turning over a child to county foster care in the 1970s following a horrific incident that separated the child from their parents.

“I was a total stranger turning over a hysterical, crying young child to another stranger in the middle of the night in what was then a cold and sterile building that housed such children.”

From this point forward Willa Dean became involved with Orangewood and has never looked back.

The extended Lyon family including son William Lyon, Susan Lyon Isola, Christine Rhoades, Jessica Rhoades, Marcia Stone, Tiara Stone, Tiffany Campbell, Byron Russell, Leon and Barbara Lyon, Curt and Wendy Lyon with son Blake and daughter Lauren, both in from New York, and Bruce Lyon, were all proudly joining the celebration honoring Willa Dean.

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