Revered sports columnist Bill Lyon dead at 81, 'pillar of Philadelphia journalism and a real gentleman'

Mark Abrams
November 18, 2019 - 7:17 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Long-time Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Bill Lyon has died after battling Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease the past couple of years. 

Word came to the press box after a commercial break in the fourth quarter of the Eagles-Patriots game at the Linc.

Those who worked with him, those who knew him, saluted the man who had become so much a part of the fabric of Philadelphia's sport media for more than 30 years.

The voice of the Eagles Merrill Reese shared the news of Lyon's passing.

"He wrote poetically. He was just a wonderful man and a great, great journalist — a credit to everything he ever represented," Reese said.

Reese said Lyon had the ability to put the reader where he was, and he delivered columns that touched the heart.

"He was just a marvelous, marvelous writer. He had a gift for not cliches, but he had a gift for understanding everything he covered and bringing the human element into his writing," he said.

Hall of Fame broadcaster Ray Dididinger spoke of his former colleague in the final moments of Eagles post-game coverage on NBC Sports, Philadelphia.

"A great writer. One of the fastest writers. I can't believe he was so good and so fast," he said. "I envied him every time we sat down next to each other. But a great writer, a real pillar of Philadelphia journalism and a real gentleman."

He says Lyon was a brilliant writer and friend who came from the Midwest and embraced the town, its teams and its fans.

"He fully immersed himself in the sports culture of this city and he became a true Philadelphia guy," he said. "And he was one of the go-to guys that Philadelphia sports fans went to on the day after a big game, because they wanted to see what Bill Lyon had to say about it. I mean, he was that good."

Lyon wrote for the Inquirer for more than 30 years and was prominently feature on the front of the sports page.

In 2016, Lyon disclosed to readers he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and was throwing down the gauntlet: He would resist "Al" with everything he had in him.

Lyon chronicled his battle with the disease over a series of columns and spoke candidly about the physical and mental toll the disease was taking in his life.

The Philadelphia Sportswriters Association gave Lyon its "Most Courageous" award in 2017, an honor reserved almost exclusively for athletes.

In a final column published by the paper in August 2018, Lyon wrote with passion about his hopes for a cure and repeated his mantra to encourage researchers: Resist. Persist. Never, ever give up.

Lyon was 81. Services are pending.