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Lyon Family Pledges $150,000 to COPH

Nov. 24, 2014

The William Lyon family has pledged $150,000 over three years to support the Center for Oral and Public History's Renovation and Expansion Initiative. This gift will be part of the matching funds applied to COPH's National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant. The center's research area will be named "The William Lyon Family Reading Room."

COPH has recorded and preserved the memories of Maj. Gen. William Lyon, a prominent business and philanthropic leader in Orange County and former chief of the Air Force Reserve, as well as 120 hours of narrations by Abraham (Al) Lyon, father of Major General William Lyon. Originally recorded in 1975 on reel-to-reel tape, these recordings have recently been digitized. In them, Al Lyon shares memories of his childhood in Lithuania, his journey to the United States, his many business ventures — including his brief ownership of Kahlúa in the 1940s — and how the Lyon family got into the home-building business. His account of his trip on the ocean liner the President Lincoln and his unexpected stay on Ellis Island provides rich details of the immigrant journey to America.

Over the past three years, COPH has raised more than $920,000 in cash and pledges toward its $1.25 million fundraising goal to meet the NEH Challenge Grant match, in part through the assistance of the Cal State Fullerton Philanthropic Foundation Board. The funds will be used to renovate and relocate COPH to the sixth floor of the Pollak Library.

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