Helen Ida Rankin Lyon

Dec. 17, 1920 - Jan. 31, 2012

Helen Ida Rankin Lyon of Muskego, formerly of the Town of Vernon, died Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, at Tudor Oaks Health Care Center in Muskego.

Join us in celebrating more than 92 gracious years of a beautiful wife, mother, sister, grandma, auntie, neighbor, friend, teacher, peacemaker, musician, gardener, artist, voracious reader, traveler, correspondent, secretary, and as many of you will remember: an excellent cook!

Helen was born in the Town of Lisbon on Dec. 17, 1920, to Stanley and Adena Rankin. She was the protective big sister to brothers the Rev. Stephen (Ruth) and Gordon (Mahala), and sisters Marjorie Schlei (Kenneth), Adena Schlei (Robert) and Martha (Dean) Page.

She graduated from Waukesha High School, where she met John, and then graduated from Racine County Normal School. She first taught at the North Lake School. After taking time off to raise her own family, Helen began teaching in the Muskego Norway District. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1967. She used the experimental Initial Teaching Alphabet. Her specialty was teaching first grade. Sometimes her students forgot her name was Mrs. Lyon and accidentally called her Mrs. Bear, Mrs. Tiger or Mrs. Wolf. She didnít mind. She was a member and past president of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary teaching sorority. She mentored many young teachers and loved doing it.

She and John, the love of her life, lived most of their 63 years of marriage on the Lyon Fruit Farm, where Helen was an equal partner. In addition to teaching school, her life centered around Vernon Presbyterian Church, where she was pianist and organist for 52 years. She also taught Sunday school, was part of a circle, and served as both a deacon and an elder. She sewed countless layettes and quilts for missions. She provided an endless stream of cookies, cakes and fabulous pies for many events. Some of you remember her as Mrs. Claus for the Vernon Day Care (woops, that was a secret).

Her home was a haven for strangers as well as friends and family. It was surrounded by flowers and filled with the aroma of apple pie and fresh bread just from the oven. The sound of music filled the air. She had a smile on her pretty face and a twinkle in her eye for her nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. When you entered, a place at the table would be miraculously set just for you. When did she iron that tablecloth? How did she can all those vegetables? And how did she remember your birthday?

Helen is survived by the many she taught how to read. Her children are the Rev. Patricia of Fox Lake and James (Chrystal) of Woodland. Her grandchildren are Wendy Lyon, the Rev. Michael Weigand (the Rev. Cathy), Barbara (Ken) Misch and Emily (Dr. Ben) Shier. She has eight great-grandsons.

She was preceded in death by her husband, John M. Lyon; her brother, Gordon Rankin; and her youngest son, John W. (Sandra) Lyon.

Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. until the noon funeral service Saturday, Feb. 4, at Vernon Presbyterian Church, S71-W23280 National Ave., Big Bend, WI 53103. Burial will follow at Vernon Presbyterian Cemetery.

Please designate memorials to the Vernon Presbyterian Church (address above). Helenís family appreciated all your cards and visits while she lived at Tudor Oaks.

For further information, please call Randle-Dable-Brisk Funeral, Cremation and Preplanning Services at 547-4035 or go to to leave an online tribute.