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December 12, 2004

Pas honors deaf city employee for 20 years of service

From: Pascagoula Mississippi Press, MS - Dec 12, 2004


PASCAGOULA -- Even though he cannot hear the loud streets of Pascagoula during his workday, Willie Lyons Jr. has been making sure they stay clean, patched and smooth for 20 years.

Lyons, who is deaf, was recognized this week for his two decades of service with the city along with others who have achieved similar tenures.

A native of Chicago with seven brothers and seven sisters, Lyons, 42, a graduate of the Illinois State School For The Deaf, came to Pascagoula at the urging of his father, Willie R. Jones Sr. of Moss Point.

"My father wanted me to move here in 1981 and he wanted me to search for a job," Lyons said, through his interpreter, Rachael Patterson, who attends First Baptist Church with Lyons and assists him in the church's deaf ministry along with Ann Holland, Patty Wilkinson and Pat Watts.

Lyons began working with the city after a suggestion from friends James Sossaman and Elmer Smith, both of whom are also deaf, and combined have more than 60 years of service with The Mississippi Press.

"I learned in high school to work hard. I enjoy my work," said Lyons, who works with the street department and takes pride in "fixing up around town. The town is nice. I love working on the roads all the time. It's hard work and I'm very eager."

He taught co-worker Jerry Moore how to sign with cards and writes notes with others to communicate on the job.

"My hearing friends, they kind of help me. They write notes for me that helps me better understand," he said, referring to all the "good people who help me."

His supervisor, Danny Myers, has worked with Lyons for 14 years.

"Willie's been a really reliable source in our system, no matter what we've directed toward him. He's one of my most reliable men," Myers said.

Despite close working quarters and the close proximity of Pascagoula's streets, Myers said Lyons has never been involved in any accidents and co-workers look out for him.

"We've always had good people around him whenever we're out on the roads. (Co-workers) love him," Myers said.

"He does a little bit of everything and he has a fantastic attitude," said Public Works Contracts Manager Brian Nelson.

"He's an exemplary worker," added Nelson, referring to Lyons' consistent punctuality, attendance and performance records.

Nelson said when he joined the city a little over a year ago, he was worried about Lyons, especially because of his many duties working on Pascagoula's numerous streets, but Lyons' commitment put him at ease early on.

"If you look at his track record and watch him work, he's probably more conscientious maybe than some of our other guys," he said.

When he's not working, Lyons enjoys meeting friends at The Deaf Club, Dr. Rex Yancey's sermons and other church activities, "watching the birds" and feeding them, and shopping at the numerous shopping centers in the area.

"I love bowling and fishing (and) basketball games with friends," he said.

His faith in God also has helped him all his life, Lyons said.

"I've read the whole Bible sometimes," he said, "and I read the Bible every night at home when it's quiet."

He's unsure if he'll retire working with the city, plans that are at least 10 years away. Also his plans could include visiting family in New York or moving to New Mexico to be with his mother.

Immediate matters include his relationship with his girlfriend in Birmingham, who wants to marry next spring.

"Maybe, I'm not sure," Lyons said, smiling, when asked if he's ready to pop the question.

Reporter Brad Crocker can be reached at or (228) 934-1431.

© 2004 The Mississippi Press.