The anniversary was an easy match for a “101 Dalmatians” theme at Elouise Lyons’ birthday party on June 4. Born in 1920, Lyons celebrated going a year past the century mark with friends and family.
In California, her twin sister Lilabel was also celebrating.
To make it festive, staff at Glenwood Village of Overland Park dressed up in polka-dot shirts for the occasion and provided her with a Cruella de Vil costume to complete the movie aesthetic.
Lyons attributed her longevity, partially, to her daily glass of scotch.
“I joke with her that she likes to drink scotch every day, and when she was younger, in her 80s, I would say, ‘Mom, you’ve got to stop doing that it’s bad for your health,’” said Paul Lyons, her youngest son. “Eventually it got to the point of, ‘You’ve made it this far. Do whatever you want.’”
Paul Lyons, an Overland Park city councilman, said his mother’s strong independent spirit probably had something to do with her longevity.
“She’s always been a very focused person. I remember when we were kids, and my dad passed away, she was just absolutely focused and determined to do what she had to do to keep the family together and to keep us well fed and cared for,” he said.
“She has always been that way. When she has something on her mind she wants to do, she’s determined to make it happen.”
After her husband died in the 1960s, she raised three sons on her own while working as a field advisor for the Girl Scouts, a position she held for more than 25 years. She recruited volunteers, organized new troops and worked at a day camp in the St. Joseph area every summer.
After graduating from Southwest High School in 1937, Lyons attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City. By 1942, she worked 10 hours a day, six days a week in the office of the North American Aviation plant, which made B-25 bombers for the military.
A photo of Elouise and Lilabel at the plant ran in the Kansas City Star at the time.
“We were dressed alike. They couldn’t tell us apart (at the factory),” she said.
She received a degree in sociology and held a variety of jobs both in the metro area and in California before marrying Jack Lyons in 1950.
After her retirement in 1987, Lyons lived independently at home in Fairway until 2019, when she moved into Glenwood Village.
Paul Lyons said his mother’s values have made a huge impression on his own life.
“She always tells me always to be honest and forthright with people,” he said.
“She’s always been extremely ethical in everything she does. I’m an elected official. I’m a city councilman in Overland Park, and I take that to heart every single day.”