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Donor Spotlight: Geraldine and Walter Lyon ’51

Geraldine and Walter Lyon ’51

An increasing number of Boston College alumni, parents, and others are finding that life income gifts—most commonly, a charitable gift annuity (CGA) or a charitable remainder trust (CRT)—are a surprisingly simple way to reduce their family’s tax burden while providing an income stream, all while making a meaningful impact at BC.


After a long and successful business career, Walter Lyon ’51 is retired and living the dream with his wife, Geraldine. But no amount of time or distance has diminished the love he feels for his alma mater—or the generosity he’s shown by creating more than a dozen CGAs for Boston College.

“We established our first CGA in 1995 and saw how well it worked for us,” says Lyon. “The tax benefits that CGAs provide have been a great fit, and BC’s gift planning staff have made the process so easy.”

Since then, the Lyons have gone on to establish nearly 20 CGAs, all of which support their endowed scholarship for BC’s scholar-athletes.

“Many of my best friends and mentors at BC were athletes, and Eagle athletics have been a great source of pride and joy throughout our lives,” he says.


When asked how the son of a Jewish businessman from Brooklyn ended up at BC in the late 1940s, Lyon credits his Irish grandmother. “My mother’s family was very poor, and they valued education above all things. My grandmother used to say ‘Read, read, read.’ They were absolutely determined that I had to go to Boston College.”

First, however, Lyon served as a Marine during World War II, after which he returned to Brooklyn and joined his father in business. But he soon fulfilled his grandmother’s hopes and came to the Heights—where he immediately fell in love.

He speaks with emotion of the beauty of Linden Lane and the quiet glory of St. Mary’s chapel, and says the Jesuits “provided the major influence and motivation in my life.”

“Even so, I almost left BC after my first semester,” he remembers. “I was miserable in my business major. I remember standing on my dormitory porch with my packed suitcase and looking up the hill a Gasson Tower. I could not take my eyes off it. I was headed home a failure.

“I went to say goodbye to Fr. Bill Leonard. He sat me down and said, ‘Let’s start over.’ He thought I could write, so he re-registered me as an English major. Everything changed after that.”

Grateful for the excellent education and encouragement he received at BC, Lyon became an unofficial ambassador, rooting for the Eagles through thick and thin and urging young students to apply.

And now, through their CGAs, he and his wife have made BC the centerpiece of their philanthropic giving in honor of those who made his transformative experience possible.

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