Fritz (Frederic N.) Lyon
Fritz (Frederic N.) Lyon — writer, idealist, class clown, father and best friend — died early on Tuesday morning, Sept. 10, at his home in Belfast. He was 68. A life celebration is being planned for later this fall. Fritz was born on Jan. 17, 1945, to Fred and Mary Lyon in Detroit, Mich. Fritz graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Michigan, where he won an unprecedented three Hopwood Awards for playwrighting. In college, Fritz met Mary Weaver (née Mary Jean Bullard), and they formed their creative partnership, which had many phases — including young love and marriage, their hippie-back- to-the-land days, co-parenting, divorce, business and theater ventures, and abiding friendship. Fritz was a devoted father and provider, and always had a close relationship with his only child Amy. They enjoyed many visits together in New York, and were always together for her birthday and holidays. He very proudly walked Amy down the aisle at her wedding 10 years ago this summer.
Fritz took great pride in being from Michigan, and was a lifelong Democrat and supporter of all labor causes, particularly the teacher’s union and the nurse’s union. He loved being a New Yorker, and was a fan of any movie or TV show about New York, especially Seinfeld. He loved living in Maine, which he felt was the ideal place to be. For years he had a 6-8 mile daily walk around Belfast, reveling in the city park, the walking bridge, and all the individual streets.
He was a lover of high and low art — he loved fine cinema, and terrible movies. Each day he read The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Bangor Daily, the Belfast newspapers (in all their iterations over the years), as well as the National Enquirer, which he got each week at Jack’s Grocery. He loved great art like Braque and Picasso, he loved the-pie-in-the-face gag (which Fritz wrote an Esquire cover story about), and he loved re-runs of the Soupy Sales show. He loved to sing the Kimball High School anthem, the Michigan University fight song, and all the great Motown hits. He invented a new poetry form, the all-rhyme haiku, which, let’s face it, was basically gibberish, but a whole lot of fun. Many family friends were gifted with collections of original all-rhyme haiku for their weddings or for Christmas. Fritz also wrote many opinion columns for the local newspapers in the last few years.
Fritz is survived by his best friend and life partner, Mary Weaver, and their daughter together, Amy Lyon, her husband Kevin Donahue, and two beloved grandsons, Owen and Dylan, and close friends Phil Prince, Suzanne Pavel, Pati Toy and Vivian Simone. He is also survived by his sister Lyn Deane of Lawrence, Kan.; his niece Dana Deane and her husband Kevin O’Connor and their three children Deane, Ellis, and Liam of Evanston, Ill.; and his nephew Kevin Deane and his wife Julie, and their two children Emily and Max, of Cambridge, England; as well as his beloved in-law family, Kay and Bill Nissen, John Nissen, Jim Nissen, and Julie, Dan, and Liz DeCarli all of Trumbull, Conn. Fritz was a loyal friend to many, maintaining deep friendships from high school, college, and all his working life, as well as with many Waldo County families.
The collaboration of Fritz and Mary began in an arena theater in Ann Arbor, Mich., and continued even while Fritz was in New York. He helped to create Strawberry Fields School and was a board member of Belfast Opera House Management and CLAP! His one-act play, “The Apple Joke,” was the first to be performed in the Belfast Opera House in 40 years. Researching through the archives of The Republican Journal, Fritz wrote “The Life and Times of the Belfast Opera House” performed there in 1990. He also wrote the musical comedy “Moonlight Bay” that was premiered in Belfast in 1989. Since returning to Maine he continued to write plays, including several children’s theater productions for Mary’s Playhouse Theatre in Belfast where he taught playwrighting and comedy improv. He enjoyed playing a part in the Church Street Festival Parade each year, from the “Un-known Ex-husband” to the “Lyin’ King.” He leaves behind piles of plays, screenplays and novels.
Fritz began his professional career as one of the first employees of Maine Public Broadcasting, serving as a writer and on-air personality. Later he moved to New York City and was a successful writer and public relations guru — a champion for hire. In his long career he had many big clients, including American Express, Harvard Business Review, GE, Price Waterhouse, Gartner Group, Tupperware, RELM Wireless, even the government of Luxembourg. When Fritz moved back to Maine in the mid-1990s, he co-founded Leo Marketing Partners with some dear friends and work colleagues, which to him were the same thing. He always enjoyed helping people write their resumes, and could make anyone’s experience sound impressive. His last two clients were the most meaningful of his life, Camp Capella and Down East Horizons. He rejoiced in all their media successes, and felt very fulfilled by the work those organizations did for children and adults with special needs, a cause that was very dear to his heart. John Williamson, a longtime work colleague and partner, may have said it best about Fritz as a writer; “remember with fondness or some other emotion the ability of Fritz to say in 100 words what could be said in 10.”