New writing scholarship honors Mary Ann Lyons

Forres and Mary Ann
W. Forres Stewart and Mary Ann Lyons

A new scholarship named in memory of one of Bradford’s most colorful women will help students who are writing majors and need some financial assistance. 

            Ron Stewart gave a gift to Pitt-Bradford to establish the Mary Ann Lyons Creative Writing Memorial Scholarship in memory of his stepmother, who died Feb. 27. Stewart’s gift will provide a $500 scholarship each year to a student who is majoring in writing and also has a financial need. The first scholarship has been awarded this current academic year to Dan Tennies, a writing major from Eldred. 

            “I wanted to establish the scholarship to benefit writing students because Mary Ann was a skilled reporter with an insightful writing style who was widely admired for her many stories and human-interest features,” said Stewart, who lives in Bedford, Mass. “I also wanted to memorialize Mary Ann because she was well known in the Bradford area for her unique and stylish attire and her warm and outward personality that endeared her to so many people.”

            During the latter part of Lyons’ career, she served as the women’s editor at the Bradford Era and as a reporter for the Olean (N.Y.) Times Herald. In her popular “Know Your Neighbor” weekly column, she highlighted the skills and interests of local residents. She also collaborated with former Era photographer W. Forres Stewart, Ron Stewart’s father, for many of her feature stories, which were well-received.

            In addition to establishing the scholarship, Stewart donated to the Hanley Library archives Lyons’ entire collection of her newspaper work from The Bradford Era and Olean Times Herald (1968-1981), which will be made available for research and public viewing.

            Lyons was born in Erie on Nov. 16, 1920, and  moved to Bradford at an early age. She graduated from St. Bernard High School in 1938 and attended a competitive office management and secretarial program, in which she excelled in shorthand and earned straight A’s. She held several office manager and secretarial jobs in her early years but made a significant name for herself when she moved to New York City and advanced into management. She had a successful career with the Kaiser Frazer Automobile distributorship and was appointed the first female general director of the distributorship, which was unheard of in those days.

            She married Lt. Col. Gerry Lyons, and they lived in New York for many years. They also spent some time in Florida where Lyons became a skilled dog trainer and a lifelong supporter of the SPCA and other national causes.

            In the mid-1960s, Lyons returned to Bradford where she worked as a receptionist at the new Bradford Howard Johnson Inn and later began her newspaper career.

            Contributions to the Mary Ann Lyons Creative Writing Memorial Scholarship may be made by phoning the Office of Institutional Advancement at (814) 362-5091; mailing a check to the office at 300 Campus Drive, Bradford, Pa., 16701; or emailing Jill Ballard, executive director of institutional advancement, at jballard@pitt.edu.

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