Cover photo for Ruth Marie Fairey Lyons's Obituary
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Ruth Marie Fairey Lyons

July 3, 1941 — September 16, 2023

Aiken

AIKEN – Ruth Marie Fairey Lyons, age 82 lost her long battle with leukemia on September 16, 2023 with her husband of 60 years, Jimmy A Lyons at her side.  Also in attendance during her final days were her brother Robert Lee Fairey, III, his wife Carolyn, and brother Andrew Westbury Fairey and his wife Sarah (Sally).  Of great compassion and assistance during this trying time was Ms. Melissa Dupera. 

Born in Rowesville, South Carolina July 03, 1941 to Robert Lee Fairey, Jr. and Nadeen Westbury Fairey, Ruth Marie was also predeceased by her beloved sister, Martha Corvette Fairey (Baughman).  Even though she traveled the world during her adulthood, Ruth Marie maintained a lifetime membership in New Hope Methodist Church of Rowesville where she was christened, married and will be long remembered. 

She met her husband in History class during High School when he loaned her his copy of War and Peace.  Who could have guessed that such a book could have led to a sixty-six year romance?  Not only were they best friends and lovers over all those years, but she was also his major critic, editor and censor during his entire career. 

Ruth Marie graduated in 1959 from High School in Orangeburg, South Carolina, she received her Bachelors from Lander College and her Masters from Clemson University.  She taught for fifteen years in various school systems, from fifth grade to college level, as she followed her husband’s career, which took them around the country and to distant lands.  It became impossible to find a new teaching job each time they moved, so she began working for the Seattle Opera where she was an outstanding success.  Soon she was on a first-name basis with luminaries such as Luciano Pavarotti, which made Jimmy extremely jealous. 

After several years in Paris, France, where Ruth Marie became fluent in French, she returned to the US and assumed her final position, this time as an Administrative Assistant in a government scientific laboratory.  This fit in perfectly with her training and personality since she often said her scientists were really like fifth graders, always her favorite pupils. 

Late in life Ruth Marie became involved with one of the true joys of her existence,  P.E.O., the Philanthropic Educational Organization, a wonderful group of ladies dedicated to helping young women further their education and improve their situation in life.  She met many special friends and was able to extend her helping hand to others in new ways.  The P.E.O. Sisters became her extended family. 

Ruth Marie was incredibly curious.  She was always reading, studying and learning.  She had a great love of nature and a long list of bird sightings covering North and South America, Europe, Africa, the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia.  Actually, she had no idea how many birds or animals she had seen, the object was to observe God’s hand in action.  When her great friend and guide Charlie would note that she had just seen a new life bird she would shrug and say, “Aren’t God’s creatures beautiful!”  She and Jimmy had completed over two hundred Great Courses from the Teaching Company, with many more in line for the future.  She simply could not find enough books to keep her busy and there was nothing worse than a badly written book… but it had to be really terrible for her not to work through it. 

Although the Lyons's could not have children, they supported the health and education of dozens of young people throughout the developing world for many decades through organizations such as World Vision and Water Missions.  Each time she visited a developing country she insisted on locating a deserving child in need of assistance through one of her favorite charities.  Ruth Marie was vitally concerned that such support be continued and her family is dedicated to ensuring her goal is met.  Any support others might consider is greatly appreciated. 

Everyone loved Ruth Marie.  She was the perfect big sister.  She had a hug and kind word for anyone in need.  She always had time to listen.  If you needed help, she was there.  If there was a rush, she remained calm.  If there was work to do, she stayed late.  If there was a strange bird outside the window, call Ruth Marie.  What was that flower?  What was a good book to read?  Call Ruth Marie. 

A celebration of Ruth Marie’s life will be held at New Hope Methodist Church in Rowesville, South Carolina at 1:00 PM on Saturday, 30 September 2023.  In Lieu of flowers please consider a donation to New Hope Methodist Church (PO Box 54, Rowesville, SC, 29133), Water Missions ( watermission.org ), or World Vision ( myworldvision.org ). 

SHELLHOUSE FUNERAL HOME, INC., 924 HAYNE AVE., AIKEN, SC 29801.

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