Ann Therese O'Connor Lyons (Nancy), of North Branford, formerly of Hamden, died peacefully at her home on October 22nd surrounded by her family. Nancy is the beloved wife of 71 years to Robert J. Lyons, Sr. Their union was a template for a storybook marriage. Nancy was born on September 18, 1925 in Chicago, IL, the fifth of seven children of Eugene Joseph O'Connor and Laura Sullivan O'Connor. She grew up in upstate New York where she excelled in the performing arts and athletics. Nancy graduated from Russell Sage College in Troy, NY, in 1949, with a degree in biology. After graduating she worked in a research laboratory studying tuberculosis. While in college, she met the love of her life, Robert, who was attending nearby Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute after serving in WWII. After his graduation, they married and moved to Hamden, CT where Robert joined the family business, The Bilco Company in West Haven and they started their family that grew to 7 lucky children. Nancy exemplified the values of faith, family, and service to others. As a mother, she ensured that the teachings of the Roman Catholic faith were a part of everyday family life. She had an uncanny ability to pinpoint each child's strengths and needs, tending to both. She placed no limits on what she would do to foster the individuality of each of her children, even if it meant getting her kids out to seven different schools every morning. Her family was her greatest joy and accomplishment and she devoted this same love to each of her 16 grandchildren. She was an artful hostess, always entertaining with elegance and class. She loved that her home was the neighborhood hub for all her children's friends; the summer months were filled with countless pool parties. Most special to her was hosting large family occasions – holidays, weddings, birthdays, reunions. She never missed an opportunity to share in the happiness and celebrate her family, she kept champagne glasses at the ready to toast every big milestone. She had an enormous circle of extended family and friends and anyone she felt needed a little love. She held everyone close to her heart and never failed to send birthday, anniversary, sympathy cards, or flowers. Her exceptional ability to be inclusive left her with a rather daunting Christmas list. Her greatest interests were your interests – she shared your goals and your struggles, and she would shine the spotlight bright on your achievements for all to share in your joy. Her superpower was lifting others up and making them feel special. "That's wonderful!" she would exclaim as her smile lit up the room. Nancy's relationship with God was her life force and foundation for how she lived. She nurtured this relationship throughout her life. Her prayer life was sacred to her. If you were in her prayers, you felt well protected because everyone knew she had that "direct line" to God. Nancy brought joy to others with her beautiful singing voice. As a young person, she often played lead roles in high school and college productions. She filled her home with music and song. Her beautiful soprano voice will long be remembered at the Church of St. Rita where she was a choir member and also sang weddings and funerals. She served St. Rita in several other capacities including RCIA, Eucharistic Minister and CCD teacher. She was a member of the Grace Notes, singing for nursing home residents and visiting shut-ins. She was an early member of the Catholic Charity League in New Haven. Nancy was also a passionate gardener, inheriting this skill from her mother. She crafted beautiful flower beds that were meticulously maintained, but she happily let her grandchildren pick their own bouquet to take home with them after a summer visit. She was the ultimate dog-lover, demonstrated over time by one Dachshund and four Weimaraners who were full family members, receiving over-the-top pampering. Her love of dogs has been inherited by many of her children and grandchildren. She also took in numerous four-leggeds and various creatures brought home by her children. Nancy lived a life of love and devotion, matched only by her adoring husband Bob, who never left the house without kissing her goodbye and never missed an opportunity to demonstrate his love. They often reflected on how fortunate they felt to have such a wonderful life together. She was the consummate wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. Nancy is survived by her husband, Robert, her children Robert, Jr. (Carol), Guilford, Lauragene Lyons (Dr. Lee Katz) Madison, James Lyons (Kathy) Buckingham,PA, Cheryl Lyons Cunningham (Kevin) Simsbury, George Lyons (Patti) Doylestown, PA, Mary Lyons Samson (David) Branford and Richard Lyons (Jennifer) Madison, her 16 adored grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren, her brother Nicholas O'Connor (Dorothy), Smyrna, GA, sister-in-law, Pamela O'Connor, Roanoke, VA, and sister-in-law, Barbara Lyons, Branford. Aunt Nancy will be missed by a host of nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her brothers, Robert and John, sisters, Constance, Jeanne and Eileen. "Nana" will be missed terribly by all but we are ever grateful to have had her loving presence in our lives for so long and we are joyful of her heavenly reward. Friends may call Thursday from 4-7 P.M. at the W.S. Clancy Memorial Funeral Home, 244 North Main St. Branford. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday at 11:00 at St. Rita's Church of the Divine Mercy Parish in Hamden. Burial will follow in St. Mary Cemetery in Hamden. In lieu of flowers, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Hartford, https://ccaoh.org
, 839-841 Asylum Ave., Attn: Development Dept. Hartford CT 06105, 860-493-1841. Please see her online memorial @ www.wsclancy.com
Published by Hartford Courant on Oct. 27, 2021.