LYONS, MATTHEW J. "SONNY" Matthew J. "Sonny" Lyons Retired NHFD Deputy Chief died peacefully on August 11, 2012, at Gaylord Hospital, Wallingford, CT. Sonny was born on December 12, 1927 in New Haven, CT to the late Matthew and Maria Egan Lyons. He was a loving husband of 60 years to Jean Johnson and father to Matthew Jr. and wife Lois. Also survived by sister in law Margaret Johnson, nieces and newphew, Maria and Ted Lynch, Paul (Carol) and Mark (Laurie) Johnson. He was predeceased by his sister Ruth (Ned) Lynch, brother in law W.A. "Scott" Johnson and niece Gail Scott. Sonny attended St. Francis Grammar School and participated in both the Jr. & Sr. Drum Corps winning many individual drumming championships and achieving national and international recognition in Rudimental Snare Drumming. He served his country in the Army during WWII and upon returning received his diploma from Hillhouse High School and graduated from Quinnipiac University. He joined the Connecticut Yankees Drum and Bugle Corps in Stratford, CT as Drum Sergeant, competing in the American Legion M & M Circuit winning National Championships. While still in the reserves, he was activated for the Korean Conflict serving in the Navy aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts DD-823 in Europe Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Upon his discharge, Sonny joined the NHFD in 1952 rising to the rank of Deputy Chief, Director of Training and Emergency Communication. While in the NHFD, he was a key participant in implementing CMED and the 911 Emergency Communications for New Haven County and received numerous Commendations from the Fire Commissioners. Sonny retired from the NHFD after 41 years and moved with his wife from New Haven to Branford. He played for over 30 years with the Ancient Mariners Fife & Drum Corps performing locally and internationally. His passion and 1st love was Rudimental Drumming and Music. He performed with many Drum Corps, Military Service Bands and a Country Music group throughout the US and on many occasions in Europe, Southern Ireland and Switzerland, in unique venues in the US, i.e., Madison Square Garden for Elizabeth Taylor's wedding, 200th Anniversary of the Liberty Bell in Philly and American Legion National Conventions at the Rose and Orange Bowls. Sonny last played with the Sons of the Whiskey Rebellion with his son and many of his close drum corps friends. A unique experience for the Whiskey Boys was their performance in KY at the personal invitation of Booker Noe Master Distiller emeritus of Jim Beam and Grandson. He was a member of the Company of Fifers and Drummer Association and as VP introduced the "Jaybirds" organization to honor Drum Corps "Old Timers." For several years, he was Director of the North Branford Minutemen Fife and Drum Corps. He was a member of the Branford Elks, American Legion Post 132 NHFD, VFW of Guilford and the Knights of Columbus Russell Council. Funeral from the Clancy Funeral Home, 43 Kirkham Ave., East Haven, CT, Thursday morning at 10:45. Mass of Christian Burial in St. Mary Church, Branford at 11:15. Burial with military honors will follow in All Saints Cemetery, North Haven, CT. Friends may call Wednesday from 4 - 8 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Francis Grammar School, 423 Ferry St., New Haven, CT 06513 or the Parkinson Disease Assoc., 27 Allendale Drive, North Haven, CT 06473. www.clancyfuneralhome.com
Published by The New Haven Register from Aug. 13 to Aug. 15, 2012.