Legendary Inquirer sports writer Bill Lyon died at age 81 on Sunday.
In 2016, Lyon stunned readers by revealing his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Over the next two years, Bill wrote candidly about his illness, nicknaming it Al — or in feistier moments, That Rat Bastard. He chronicled what it was like to move out of his multi-story home and into a place with no steps, a necessary adjustment as he got sicker. He shared anecdotes about using a cane and working with therapy dogs.
“My intent is to write columns about my dementia,” Lyon wrote in 2016. “My hope is that the columns will be cathartic and perhaps be of some help to anyone else who’s going down this same long and winding road ... My intent is to write until ... well, until I can’t.”
Eventually that day came and Lyon shared his struggles with writing — both the mental challenges from increased writer’s block, and the physical impediments like tremors that shook his hands so much he couldn’t type. But even after that, Lyon continued to share stories, dictating columns to Inquirer editors who visited him.
What stuck with readers most about Lyon’s story was his fighting spirit. In his inaugural Alzheimer’s piece, he wrote, “You wake up one morning and something is missing and you’re not sure how or what. So what do we do? Resist. And persist. And never, ever, ever give in.” Lyon didn’t give up, even after the tragic loss of his beloved wife and “best pal” Ethel in 2018.
My Alzheimer’s fight: Never, ever quit
My Alzheimer’s fight: Adjust, adapt, push on
My battle with Alzheimer’s: Mind, body, meds
My Alzheimer’s fight: Shaping other minds
My battle with Alzheimer’s: Finding my way back
Bill Lyon: In battle against Alzheimer’s, giving ground only grudgingly
Bill Lyon: Secret weapon against Alzheimer’s
Packing up a house full of memories while battling Alzheimer’s
Coming home, to the land of no steps
Bill Lyon: Time to shine a light on Alzheimer’s
Bill Lyon: Still lessons to learn while fighting Alzheimer’s
Ghostly visits and the power of hugs
Bill Lyon: Alzheimer’s chips away at your ability to communicate
Life after Ethel, and why I’ll never, ever give in to Alzheimer’s
How two Bernese mountain dogs are helping me battle Alzheimer’s
Fighting to the finish for an Alzheimer’s cure