Covenant College hostess of nearly thirty years, Penelope Craig Matthews Lyon – of Craig Lyon Great Hall fame – died Friday, Nov. 14, in Clinton, S.C. Beloved of the College and the Mountain, Lyon’s was a life (1924-2014) of love for neighbor and Lord.
Born in Monroe, La., Mrs. Lyon began her time at Covenant in the 1970s and continued working for the College until her retirement in 2000. According to a news report issued by Covenant last week, among her many contributions to the College, Lyon served as hostess, a role in which she managed the Great Hall. She also helped to host special events, even during her retirement. The Craig Lyon Great Hall in Carter Hall was named in honor of Lyon and a painting of her now hangs inside the room.
“Lyon has always been a treasure to the college, but especially to the Psychology Department,” noted Dr. Mike Rulon, retired Professor of Psychology. “When I introduced her to new students, she asked questions until she found a connection with that student and someone she knows,” he said, adding, “and her memory was incredible.”
According to Joe Novenson, senior pastor at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church, in correlation with her longevity of service to the college Lyon possessed a “peerless attentive care [and] a memory for detail that was frankly stunning.”
“I tear up remembering how rarely I have ever been so attentively cared for by anyone like [Lyon] cared for me,” Novenson recounts, adding, “When I grow up in Christ, I want to be like her.”
During part of her time at Covenant, Lyon lived in Carter Hall in a second floor apartment on the north end of the building. Over the years she met thousands of students, including Covenant's current President, Dr. J. Derek Halvorson, whom she remembered would dribble a noisy soccer ball down The Ghetto.
President Halvorson expressed his feelings for Lyon, remembering “her grace, hospitality, and Southern charm.” He described Lyon as both refined and fun, noting “her decorum and manners, and also her patience and healthy sense of humor.” This mixture contributed to her reputation of hospitality, a trait that especially characterized the way she served Covenant. In Halvorson’s words, “As the College celebrates fifty years in the old Lookout Mountain Hotel, it seems fitting that we would mark that time by celebrating the home-going of one who made that building such a welcome home for so many students and guests.”
Lyon’s funeral was held on Sunday, Nov. 16, at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Clinton, S.C. On Nov. 19, another service was held in Monroe, La., at Covenant Presbyterian Church. After the service in Monroe, she was buried in Ruston, La.
Her family has requested that, in lieu of flowers for the family, all memorials be made to Covenant.
President Halvorson spoke on behalf of the Covenant community when he said in gratitude for her legacy of hospitality, “We thank God for Craig Lyon, and we delight in knowing that she now enjoys the hospitality of her heavenly Father.”