Nina Lyons
(born in 1909)

Nina was the youngest child of a family of 5. Nina’s parents arrived in The United States from Ireland at the turn of the century. They settled in New York where Nina’s mother gave birth to three boys and one girl. The three boys died quickly after birth and Nina’s parents started to think that something was wrong with the American climate. So, when Nina’s mother became pregnant again, Nina’s father decided to send his wife back to Ireland where she could give birth to her child under the healthy Irish climate. Thus, Nina Lyons was born in Ireland in 1909. A few months after her birth, her mother traveled back to the United States with her new-born child. The two arrived at Ellis Island where Nina’s uncle was waiting for them. The custom officer who cleared their arrival gave them a little trouble about their existing connections in the United States. To be allowed in, Nina’s mother simply said that her brother in law was her husband and the custom officer let them in, although with a complaisant smile.

Nina grew up in New York with her parents and her only surviving sibling, her sister Lilly who was much older than her. Nina’s father found a job servicing hotel inaugurations. This position allowed him to pay for Lilly’s high school but unfortunately when Nina’s turn came around, he could not afford the same privilege for his younger daughter and Nina had to start her working life and contribute to the income of the family. Years passed and finally her parents passed away. When the great depression hit the country in 1929, Nina was working at the telephone company, the ancestor of AT&T. She was still single but her sister Lilly was married with three children. When the crisis hit, Lilly’s husband lost his job, and alone, Nina stepped in and supported the whole family with her small salary. In addition she found the means to spoil Lilly’s last born, who became Nina’s favorite.

Years passed and Lilly’s family finally overcame this ordeal. Nina married fireman Bill White in 1947. Together they had two children, Mary and Billy. Lilly’s family too prospered. Her grandson especially became successful as a co-founder of the investment Bank Sandler O’Neal. Lilly Lyons finally passed away and today Nina is the last representative of these early years when the family was trying to beat the fate and establish itself in a new country. All of her grandchildren, grandnephews, and grandnieces of course remember her achievement and these years that she passed at the service of her beloved family. At 94, Nina leaves in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY; she is more dynamic and more optimistic than ever!