The Old Mission Peninsula lost a beautiful soul when Amy Lyman passed away on Oct. 28, 2021. I first met Amy about the time I started publishing Old Mission Gazette around 2015. I quickly learned that not only was she involved in a lot of different things on the OMP, including the Old Mission Peninsula Historical Society, but she was one of the most joyful people I’d ever met.
I knew that Amy had dealt with many health issues over the years, but you’d never know it when you were talking with her. She was always smiling, had a great sense of humor, and one of the best laughs of anyone I knew. She was one of those people who just made you feel good about life, even amidst her own health struggles.
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She will be so missed on the Peninsula, and if there is anything I can say about her passing, it’s “Be more like Amy.” Find the good in people. Find something to laugh and smile about, even when things aren’t looking that great for you. And spread joy wherever you go.
Last month, a group of friends gathered in Amy and Brad’s yard to sing Happy Birthday to her and fellow birthday girl JoAnn Cole. A couple photos of the event, including one of Judy Weaver leading the group in song with her violin.
And here are a few photos of Amy at various OMP events over the years. See what I mean about that smile?
When I think of Amy, I think about one of my favorite songs, “Keep on the Sunny Side,” written in 1899 by Ada Blenkhorn and J. Howard Entwisle. The song was made popular in 1928 when the Carter Family recorded it, and has been recorded many times over the years, including by The Whites for the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou.”
Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,
Keep on the sunny side of life;
It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way,
If we keep on the sunny side of life.
Here’s a recording of the song by the Carter Family – Mother Maybelle Carter, Helen And Anita – in 1965 on the Grand Ole Opry Show. Below the video, read Amy’s full obituary sent to me by her husband Brad, who was by her side the whole way.
Amy Jean (Wheaton) Lyman 1952-2021
Amy Jean (Wheaton) Lyman passed away at her home on the Old Mission Peninsula, surrounded by family on October 28, 2021. She persevered to overcome complications from her years long battle with Multiple Myeloma to enjoy last summer at her home and visits with family and friends. Amy’s spirit and memory survive in her husband of 47 years, Brad, their sons and daughters-in-law, Brian (Lisa) of Annapolis, MD, and Jeremy (Lindsey) of Burtonsville, MD, five grandchildren (Alex, Lindsay, Evan, Owen and Carter), as well as her sisters, Nancy DeYoung and Barbara Scott.
Amy was born the third daughter of Marjorie and Ralph Wheaton in Torrington, Connecticut in 1952. When she was a child, the Wheaton family moved to Portage, Michigan, where Amy graduated with honors from Portage Public Schools. At Western Michigan University she earned her bachelor’s degree (Magna Cum Laude), but more importantly, Amy and Brad met and fell in love. They were married in 1974 and shared a weekend honeymoon in Traverse City, where they first laid eyes on the Old Mission Peninsula.
Amy taught in the Portage Public Schools while Brad finished his master’s degree. When Brad was offered a teaching position at Baltimore City Community College, Amy took a position as a health educator with the American Lung Association in Maryland. Their east coast adventure lasted 39 wonderful years.
Amy’s talents, emotional intelligence, and social acumen empowered others. She supported her boys and husband in their educations, relationships and careers, raising her young sons in Baltimore as devoted full-time mother. Amy discovered her passion for botany and took a position at a wholesale greenhouse. Through her diligence and social skills, she rose to become manager of perennial plant production that exceeded a million plants each year.
Amy’s spiritual journey, concern for social justice, and call-to-work brought her into the faith community at Towson Presbyterian Church. She ministered in faith; taught Sunday School, cared for the community as a Deacon, and helped govern the church as an Elder. Amy’s vocations and generosity truly transcend any singular professional or volunteer title. For decades she tirelessly and gracefully volunteered in the service of others, from parent and community organizations to homeless shelters and interfaith collaborations.
In 2006, Amy and Brad began returning to their native Michigan for summers on the Old Mission Peninsula, where they found a welcoming community. Amy reveled in the beauty of northern Michigan, with many fond memories of childhood visits to her grandfather’s cabin on the nearby Manistee River. In 2014, Amy and Brad decided to make Old Mission their home. When she wasn’t cooking or baking, tending her own perennial and vegetable gardens or enjoying her pets and wild bird visitors, Amy could be found volunteering with the Old Mission Peninsula Historical Society, The Friends of Mission Point Lighthouse, The Peter Dougherty Society, and at numerous community events.
Amy’s boundless compassion, intellect, quick wit and infectious smile inspired those around her to be their best selves. She was deeply troubled by cruelty and injustice in the world and strived toward change through education and action. She loved popcorn, spring flowers, and seeing her children and grandchildren learn, grow, and thrive. Her loved ones take solace in the certainty that she lived a full and joyful life and are thankful for the time that she illuminated their lives.
Arrangements are being handled by the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral home in Traverse City. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy that strives to honor the beauty and serenity of northern Michigan, or to the Munson Hospitals and the Mayo Clinic, where staff healed and comforted Amy and her family with expertise and compassion.
A service for Amy will be held on Friday, Nov. 26, at the Old Mission Peninsula United Methodist Church, 19426 Center Road on the Old Mission Peninsula. The family will welcome folks at the church at 10 a.m., and a service will follow at 11 a.m. Per the church’s guidelines, masks will be required for entrance into the building.