Marshall A. “Marty” Lyons, died June 27 in his native Bluff City, Tenn., following a three-year battle with colon cancer. He was 58 and had been a resident of Washington for about 30 years, according to his friend and neighbor Taunee Grant.
He spent his last days with his mother, Clemantis Lyons, his nephew Ricky Lyons and Ricky’s wife, Heather, his great niece Haley and great nephew Dalton.
Lyons was born Jan. 19, 1955. He worked the last 12 years of his life as an events coordinator for Greenberg Traurig Law Firm where he was known for the lavish, themed parties he planned for the firm’s annual employee holiday gatherings.
“Marshall was a proud gay man whose open wit and direct approach was tempered with compassion, earning the admiration and friendship of many,” Grant said. “He was an advocate for LGBT rights and women’s rights, and felt passionately about wanting to see more unity in the LGBT movement. Friends and neighbors will miss Marshall’s stories of gay life in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, including memories of various marches in Washington, D.C.”
Lyons was a skilled gardener, sharing one of the nicest gardens on the block with friends and neighbors, including Darrel Fettig who remembers him as “evil” in a good-natured way.
“We had so much fun buying flowers and plants every spring, then planting and having cocktails afterwards — and during planting, too — that Joe and I started calling him the ‘evil gardener,’ because after a few too many, well, he could be evil! But it was all in fun,” Fettig said.
Fettig’s partner, Joe McDonald, also remembers their fun times with Lyons.
“He had a few other names as well, the most common one being Marsha Mae, but he was also known as ‘Marsha Mae Magnolia, the Baroness of Evil’ among certain old friends,” McDonald said. “He also enjoyed barbecue anything, subsisting on it for years, but no greens despite his Tennessee upbringing. He would say, ‘Marsha Mae don’t eat no greens!’”
Lyons was preceded in death by his three brothers, Ernie, David and Rick, who was also gay and with whom he shared a special relationship. He leaves behind many wonderful friends, who all cared for him one way or another as he became ill, including Ann, Christine, Taunee and Tessa, Al, Derrick, Darrel and Joe, Joel and Gary, Mike, Scottie and all of his friends at Greenberg Traurig. A family service and burial took place in Bristol, Tenn., on June 30.