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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

LYON, Randolph W.

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LYON, Randolph W. (Cedar Rapids, IA, July 4, 1949-- ). "Encyclopedia Dubuque" is the latest of many publications Lyon has written, co-authored, or served as a contributor. He was the author of Dubuque, the Encyclopedia (1991) upon which this website is based. He followed this in 1998 with Faith and Fortunes: An Encyclopedia of Dubuque County. This book was published as part of the Iowa sesquicentennial celebration; all monies raised from the sale of the book were divided evenly among the seven county historical societies to fund their own projects. He was the co-author of Between Two Rivers: Iowa Year by Year, 1846-1996 published by the Iowa State Press. His co-author on this project was Allan Carpenter, the author of dozens of book series. Carpenter had earlier hired Lyon as a contributor for three regional encyclopedias--The Encyclopedia of the Midwest (1989), The Encyclopedia of the Central West(1990), and The Encyclopedia of the Far West (1991)--for the publisher Facts on File.

Lyon's writings have not been limited to books. Over the years, articles written by him appeared in The Iowan, Science Activities, Arts and Activities, Julien's Journal, Flower and Garden and Learning magazines. In 1972 he wrote The Water Flows: A Primary Source History of the American Indian for Creative Visuals of Big Spring, Texas. The six cassette series provided students with primary sources which could be incorporated into a unit of study. In 1974 Creative Visuals published his three filmstrip series Archaeological Dig at Tel Gezer based upon the author's experiences in Israel. In 2007 the Iowa State Education Association produced Lyon's Shining Stars and Everyday Heroes. This two-CD kit included an encyclopedia of Iowa history including over 5,800 entries. There was also a year's course of daily oral language activities based on Iowa history and lesson plans designed to encourage writing, map skills, and even an appreciation of a community's architectural history.

Lyon developed two multi-cultural calendars for the Iowa State Education Association and the Iowa daily historical calendar used for many years on the website of the State Historical Society of Iowa. From 1991-1999 he supplied the text for the popular "Not So Long Ago: The Dubuque of Our Memories" calendars for FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DUBUQUE. These featured the art work of Dubuque artist, Norman ZEPESKI.

Lyon taught in the DUBUQUE COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT from 1972-2010. He was a member of the district's first talented and gifted committee and helped write a grant through which monies were received from Phi Delta Kappa to fund a pilot program at HOOVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL in the early 1970s. Fascinated by the architecture present in Dubuque, he instructed students in characteristics of the different styles. Each spring for over twenty years, he then led his class on a "walking tour" from Hoover past the University of Dubuque, and down West Third to the downtown area. As they identified the styles of homes, he related information about the history of the homes' previous owners. Lyon frequently served on school district science and social studies committees. He served on the Dubuque Housing Commission, board member of the Dubuque Education Association and the JDC UniServ Unit of the Iowa State Education Association, and as a deacon and Spruce-Up Crew member at FIRST CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST.

In 1991 Lyon was one of the first ten educators in Dubuque County to receive the GOLD STAR AWARD for teaching from KWWL. He was named an "outstanding teacher" three times by students in the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa and four times by students from the Northeast Iowa Community College. As of 2005 he had been cited five times in Who's Who Among America's Teachers. Lyon was the first person to serve four years as president of the DUBUQUE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION (1982-1986). In 2006 he received the Excellence in Education Award from the Masons of the Masonic Lodge No. 125. In 2008 he was selected the historian of the Dubuque Community School District. Lyon was one of five finalists for the 2010 IOWA TEACHER OF THE YEAR award. In 2013 the Dubuque County Democratic Party named him "Volunteer of the Year" for setting a nation-wide individual record of signing up 1,708 early voters during the presidential election of 2012. In 2018 he was named the recipient of the Ann Michalski Distinguished Service Award by the Dubuque County Democratic Party.

In 2014 Lyon worked with members of the Downtown Neighborhood Association to establish signage in Jackson Park. He also accepted offers to join the executive boards of the Dubuque Railroad Museum and Cultural Center as well as the Thomas Determan Global Perspectives.

Lyon is married. His wife, Ruth, has served as the director of bell and vocal choirs at First Congregational United Church of Christ. Their daughter Christine is a partner in a California law firm. Their daughter Angela is an administrator with the University of Iowa Hospitals.