Grace A. Lyon passed away Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at Presbyterian Hospital after a brief and unexpected illness.
She is survived by her husband, Steven R. Lyon and her son, Steven A. Lyon. Grace was born Grace Louise Aiello to parents Eugene and Stella Aiello at Ellwood City Hospital in Lawrence County and lived in Wampum, PA with her parents and brother Joseph until the age of 12 when the family moved to Penn Hills, PA.
Grace had a happy and uneventful childhood during which time the family enjoyed close relationships with extended family living in the Ellwood City and New Castle areas. Grace graduated from Penn Hills High School in 1967 and subsequently attended Slippery Rock University, majoring in Elementary and Special Education as an honors student and graduated in 1971.
The untimely and sudden death of her father devastated the family and drew them closer together in their grief.
After graduation from college Grace accepted a position with United Cerebral Palsy of Pittsburgh where she was a developmental therapist in the infant program serving infants and young children with developmental and intellectual disabilities, their parents and families. She provided center-based, and home-based training and support to children, parents and families. During this time Grace was selected as one of a small number of teachers, nationally, to participate in the National Collaborative Project, which developed the home and center-based model for serving young children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As a member of the collaborative she participated in an extended training program in New York City. This program was focused on preparing professionals to use the Neurodevelopmental Treatment method, developed by Carl and Berta Bobath, which was designed to support the development of children and youth with significant intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities. In 1977 she was selected as the statewide teacher trainer by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and supported on a grant from the U.S. Office of Education. She traveled across the state organizing and supporting transdisciplinary teams to work with students and families in public school programs during the initial implementation of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act.
In 1978 Grace met her husband-to-be, Steven Lyon, who at the time was a faculty member at the University of Kansas Special Education Department, while participating as a co-keynote speaker at a statewide teacher training conference in Topeka, KS. The two began a long-distance relationship, became engaged in November of that year, and were married in July of 1979. She moved to Kansas City, MO where she accepted a position on a federal research grant at the University of Kansas, working with her husband to promote and expand integrated, school-based programs for children with complex needs. Living near the Plaza in Kansas City MO the couple had a wonderful beginning to what would be a long and happy marriage.
When a faculty position in Special Education at the University of Pittsburgh became available Steven and Grace moved back to the Pittsburgh area where they remained until her death. Grace had a number of positions as a manager for community residential programs for youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her only child, son Steven was born June 24, 1984. Grace was a devoted mother and their family life, including her mother, revolved around her son. Steven and Grace resumed their professional collaboration when Grace accepted a position as a Research Associate at the University of Pittsburgh where they managed a number of federal research, development, and training grants from the U.S. Department of Education over a period of 16 years. They co-published a number of papers and gave presentations at a variety of national professional conferences across the country. Often, Grace’s mother and their son Steven accompanied them on these trips where they would enjoy reconnecting with friends working in their field from different cities and universities. In 1994 Grace decided to pursue a career as a public school teacher and accepted a position with the Pine Richland School District where she worked until her retirement in 2017. As a teacher with the school district Grace’s depth of knowledge and experience had her performing a number of roles: instructional support teacher, reading coach, math coach and teacher of students with intellectual, develomental disabilities and autism.
During this span of years the family lived in an apartment in Shadyside the City of Pittsburgh, a townhouse in Oakmont and finally in a house in O’Hara. They enjoyed vacations to Door County Wisconsin, visits to Steven’s parents in southern Wisconsin, and weekends at Cook’s Forest, hiking, cycling, kayaking and staying in a cabin at the Gateway Lodge. Her son, Steven, was a swimmer and the family spent many days and weekends attending swim meets throughout Steven’s middle and high school years. Across these years Grace also gave much of herself and her time to support her widowed mother.
For those who were fortunate to have known her, Grace was beloved-she was kind, unselfish, and always had time for a friendly greeting for everyone (whether she knew someone or not). She was always giving to others-she believed that to be close to god was to be close to people. She wanted everyone to get along and didn’t understand or accept acts of meanness, selfishness, or unwillingness to forgive others.
We are all better people for having known her, and she will always have a special place in our hearts.