John Lyons #9737


Elected AustralAsia Trustee, September 17, 2016-2019

John Lyons graduated with an MSc in Physical Chemistry from the University of Melbourne in 1979. He joined Dulux Australia as a paint chemist and spent the next 25 years working in various laboratories around the world as part of ICI Paints, at the time the largest paint company in the world. This included nine years of postings in England, New Zealand, Malaysia and the USA. His long-suffering wife, Susie, and three children are the products of this global adventure. All three kids speak with American accents and Susie is a Cleveland Indians fan. Luckily at the time of writing, the Indians are surging in the post season and it’s time to start believing! The attached picture shows John wearing his new post season Indians cap watching the Indians at Toronto in the American League Championship series, on ESPN in Melbourne.

John retired early allowing Susie to return to work to keep him in the style to which he was accustomed. It gave him time to rekindle his lifelong interest in timber. In the paint industry, the durability of painted timber is a fascinating study and John was able to indulge this interest as part of his work responsibilities. There are no satisfactory predictors of durability and the industry relies on natural weathering studies of painted panels. Usually this means dealing with the stressors of sun, wind and rain but in Malaysia this meant jungle exposures in a monkey proof cage at the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM). Two decades later his timber research has led him to the archives of FRIM and the work of botanists and wood technologists, such as H. E. Desch, between the wars.

John’s main interests are collecting books on wood and forestry, and standard wood specimens from around the world. A couple of years ago he acquired the collections of Honorary Life Member, Keith Towe, who had built up both areas over fifty years o f collecting (see Vol. 69, Number 5, page 13). Expanding from that base is not a simple thing but John has concentrated on collecting conifer wood, cones and textbooks. He now holds samples of wood, needles and cones from over half of the one hundred species of Pinus and is on the lookout for more. His fellow IWCS members encourage him in this passion. For example, his mate and former Trustee, Ian McLaughlin (pictured on right), presented him with this cone from Pinus ayacahuite grown in the Otway ranges in Victoria, Australia.

He also takes a keen interest in wood microscopy, inspired by another mate, Australasian Membership Secretary, Jim Schubert from South Australia. Jim has about ten years and 2000 slides head start but John is anxious to catch up as soon as he can.

John succeeded Harry Dennis as Trustee at the successful Charleville AGM in October, and thinks this is a bit like following Nelson Mandela as President. It’s a hard act to follow. However the many former Trustees still active in the region should steer him in the right direction.