Jim Lyday, 82, died peacefully on December 11, 2012 at Arden Courts Memory Care Community in Silver Spring, Maryland from dementia-related complications. An economist and an educator, Jim came to Washington, DC from his hometown Paul's Valley, Oklahoma in 1960 as an intern for Wright Patman (D-TX). In later years, he served as staff economist at several federal agencies including the Office of Economic Opportunity, President Johnson's anti-poverty agency, and the Environmental Protection Agency. In 1963 he was enlisted by the Organization of American States to join President Kennedy's Alliance for Progress as a Professor at the Institute for Housing and Planning in BogotÁ, Colombia. He returned to Washington to join President Johnson's OEO, where he was instrumental in designing a welfare reform program which was introduced to Congress by President Nixon as the Family Assistance Plan. The Plan enjoyed widespread support among economists and business leaders and would have created the first income floor for all working families in America. Leaving OEO in 1970 for the University of Minnesota, Jim then inspired graduate students to dedicate themselves to careers in public service as a Professor of Economics and Public Affairs. One of his students later established the James M. Lyday Fellowship to provide financial assistance to incoming students at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Returning to Capitol Hill in 1973, Jim then served as Senior Staff Economist for the House Budget Committee until his retirement.
Jim's passion for social justice, his wry sense of humor and general exuberance for life will be remembered by all those who knew and loved him. He loved to sing and play the banjo and guitar at home and at hootenannies with friends, family, and even once, as he liked to recall, with Pete Seeger at the University of Oklahoma, where Jim obtained his master's degree in economics in 1959. He delighted in days spent in manual labor on his farm in western Virginia where he grew fruit trees, nurtured a small vineyard and made his own wine. Until the very end, he maintained his faith that government had a critical role to play in improving the social human condition. A previous marriage to Kyla Bynum ended in divorce, but he is survived by Noreen, his wife of 45 years, and by his son Corbin.
No Services will be held.

Published in The Washington Post on Jan. 1, 2013