Richard D. Lyons, whose connection to the South Fork began with his interest in the woman he was to marry, Susan Pilchik Rosenbaum, died on March 13 at their home in Charleston, S.C. He was 84 and suffered from vascular dementia.
Mr. Lyons was a reporter for The New York Times for nearly 30 years, writing some 3,000 articles on science, medicine, and psychology, among other subjects, as well as metropolitan and United Nations news. Covering the United States space program, he was The Times’s reporter on the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission.
Before settling at The Times, Mr. Lyons, a born and bred New Yorker, had written for the Plainfield (N.J.) Courier, which had given him his first job, the Memphis (Tenn.) Commercial Appeal, and Reuters in London. He belonged to the Silurians and the Players Club in New York City.
His family said his work was informed by his love of history, biography, and literature, as well as science, and by an unquenchable thirst for travel. He had visited all but two of the United States, and nearly every continent. After moving to Charleston, he continued to plan at least two trips a year.
His marriage to Ms. Rosenbaum seemed destined as she was a reporter, who worked for The East Hampton Star for some 10 years, and also loved traveling, particularly to southern France.
Even in retirement, Mr. Lyons pored over up to five newspapers a day, commenting on graphics and photography as well as writing. Even in his last months, when dementia set in, he would greet every day by asking his wife, “Is there any news news today?” He also reveled in music, including the best rock ’n’ roll, and remembered with pride that, while working in Memphis, he was one of Elvis Presley’s first interviewers.
Richard Daniel Lyons was born on May 31, 1928 in Brooklyn, the only son of Mary Francis and John M. Lyons. He grew up in a house that straddled the boundary of Nassau and Queens Counties, which enabled him to graduate from one of the region’s best schools, Great Neck High School, and to receive a full scholarship to Brown University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from Brown and a master’s in journalism from Columbia University. He was also a navigator in the Air Force from 1951 to 1953.
Mr. Lyons was divorced from his first wife, the late Margaret McKenna. Two of their children, David Lyons of New York City and Abigail Wright of Glen Innes, Australia, survive. In addition to his wife, he also is survived by two stepchildren, Adam Rosenbaum of Studio City, Calif., and Tanya Gat of New York City, and by two granddaughters and four step-grandchildren. A sister, Mary Brochard, died before him.
No funeral services were planned. Donations in Mr. Lyons’s memory were suggested to Respite Care Charleston, 405 King Street, Charleston 29403, or Odyssey Hospice, Gentiva Hospice Foundation, 7801 Mesquite Bend Drive, Suite 105, Irving, Tex. 75063.