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Family has always come first in the eyes of Helen Virginia McElroy Lyon. She is a proud mother of four and grandmother of nine, and has dedicated her entire life to supporting her family and participating in the activities that were of interest to them. She was a 4-H leader for many years and a Rainbow Girls Mother Advisor and the State Grand Deputy for the Rainbow Assemblies for more than fifteen years. For nearly five decades, Helen has been a member of the Order of Eastern Star and served as an officer for the majority of those years. For eight years, Helen was a board member of the Iowa Valley Community College Trustees. All of her life, she has maintained a high level of involvement in the church, serving on many committees and singing in the choir. She also sings in a Sweet Adelines barbershop chorus.
For many years, Helen had a very active role in the family dairy herd. She was involved with the Tama County Dairy Association and the Iowa Jersey Cattle Club as a member and an officer. One of her greatest contributions was starting the Tama County Dairy Princess contest and organizing the state Jersey Cattle Club Princess contest. These activities were in addition to the daily responsibilities of farm life. Helen has always welcomed people into the Lyon home. She not only raised four children, but had an active role in raising many other youths. From nieces and nephews and cousins to Tony the families' Norwegian exchange student all spent time living in the Lyon household and called Helen "Mom."
The grandchildren have also spent quite a bit of time at Grandma Helen's house. She always places others before herself, and has taught all of us not to shy away from hard work and to constantly strive to improve ourselves. For many years, Helen has been a Red Cross volunteer at the Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center and a disaster relief worker for Tama and Marshall counties. She also serves as the South Tama County Red Cross Disaster chairperson.
A very proud moment in our lives was when Grandma coordinated a shelter for the homeless during the flooding of 1993. She spent seven days a week for two months finding food and clothing for the families affected by the floods. While running the shelter, Helen still found time to take care of her grandson who was living there that summer while he completed a college internship.
The grandchildren have often been the beneficiaries of her help and love. We have not always told her how much she means to us and how much we appreciate her efforts in raising us. The Plaza of Heroines is our way of expressing our love and thanks for all that she has done.
In times of joy and achievement or difficulty or disappointment, she has been there for us even when some of us have lived hundreds of miles from her home. So to you, Grandma, all of our love and thanks. We cherish our time with you always for you are our heroine.
-submitted by Matthew M. Podhajsky