Charlton Lyons

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Charlton Havard Lyons, Sr. (1894-1973), was an oilman in Shreveport who in the 1960s led the movement to revitalize the Republican Party in his native Louisiana. On March 3, 1964, he polled 37.5 percent of the gubernatorial general election vote, a record showing for a Republican candidate in his state until that time. Victory went to the Democrat John J. McKeithen, then a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission and a former state legislator from Columbia in Caldwell Parish in northeast Louisiana. McKeithen served as governor for two consecutive terms from 1964 to 1972.

Lyons was a native of Abbeville in Vermilion Parish in south Louisiana and a graduate of Tulane University. He taught school and briefly practiced law in Winnfield, Louisiana, prior to relocation to Shreveport and entry into what became the C. H. Lyons Oil Company. A Democrat until 1960, he headed Louisiana Democrats for Eisenhower in 1952 and Nixon in 1960. He switched partied to run in December 1961 as the Republican candidate for the United States House of Representatives from Louisiana's Fourth Congressional District, but he was defeated in a relatively close outcome by the Democrat Joe Waggonner, a businessman from Bossier Parish. The position is now held by the Republican John Fleming, a physician from Minden in Webster Parish.

From 1964 to 1968, Lyons was the state Republican chairman, having preceded in that position his friend, Charles de Gravelles of Lafayette, Louisiana. One of his sons, Hall M. Lyons, also an oilman, ran unsuccessfully in 1966 for the congressional seat based about Lafayette. Hall Lyons also finished in fourth place in a race for the United States Senate in 1972 as the nominee of George Wallace's American Independent Party; his father, however, supported the Republican candidate, Ben C. Toledano of New Orleans. Victory went to former State Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., of Shreveport, who prevailed over the second-ranking candidate, former Governor John McKeithen, still a Democrat but running that year as an Independent.

Lyons, his wife, the former Marjorie Hall, an actress and patron of the arts originally from Wisconsin, and Hall Lyons are all interred at the large Forest Park Cemetery in Shreveport.

In 2011, Lyons was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, where he had briefly resided as a young adult.

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