Tracy Lyon is the immediate past president of Las Patronas, a La Jolla-based, all-volunteer philanthropic organization that was established in 1946. The group support nonprofits throughout San Diego County with proceeds of the annual Jewel Ball at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.
Lyon is a third-generation La Jollan and lives in town with her husband, Mark, and son, Sean. She is the owner of the Hacienda del Sol in Borrego Springs, and for the last 17 years has been the business manager/senior operations specialist for Sparling | ILA Zammit Engineering.
What brought you to La Jolla?
My great-grandmother Mary Boynton moved to La Jolla in 1938 from Mars Hill, Maine. She immediately fell in love with La Jolla and would often write to her son describing La Jolla’s charm and beauty. My grandfather visited La Jolla many times over the 10 years that followed and came to the same conclusion … La Jolla was paradise. So in 1948, my grandparents packed up and moved to La Jolla.
My grandparents on my mother’s side moved to La Jolla from Lake Forest, Ill., in 1949. It wasn’t until 1951 that my parents actually met, while both attending La Jolla High School. They graduated and married several years later. Except for a short time while my father was stationed in the Air Force in Topeka, Kansas, we have been La Jolla residents. My younger brother was also born here, as were both of our children, making us third-generation La Jollans, as well as La Jolla High School alums.
What makes this area special to you?
That’s easy! Nothing can compare to WindanSea Beach. There is just something magical about how the tides change the look of it on a daily basis. My father was a lifeguard at WindanSea back in the day, and as a little girl, I used to love sitting under the shack, hiding amidst the shade of huge plank surfboards.
Of course, there were the luaus, too … the shack in all its regalia decorated with Hawaiian flowers, and the white sandy beach dotted with illuminated tiki torches. The surfboards were used as long serving tables and bars where we enjoyed amazing clam chowder and the sounds of ukuleles being strummed. Surfing legends were everywhere … Buddy Hull, Don Okey, Dick Clark, Woody Ekstrom, to name a few.
If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?
I miss some of the old landmarks around La Jolla — John’s Waffle Shop, abalone sandwiches from C & M, purveyor-perfect specimen peaches from Jurgenson’s, and of course, Spencer and The Cove Theater.
Who or what inspires you?
That’s another easy one! Las Patronas and the people and organizations that support them. As the past president of Las Patronas, I am inspired not only by the vision and dedication of our beneficiaries, but also that of the 50 fantastic, energetic and talented active members. In the seven years I was a member of Las Patronas, this organization raised and funded over $5 million in grants, touching the lives of nearly everyone in our county. That passion and selfless devotion to enriching the lives of others are beyond reproach.
If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
I think you always want to spend more time with those you have lost. The trouble is, by the time you get to be my age, there simply aren’t enough seats at the table! So sticking strictly with the living, I would invite my husband, Mark, and son, Sean, and the remaining seats would be filled with treasured friends and family.
Tell us about what you are reading.
I’m currently reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” It’s a book about an unforgettable journey, told through the eyes of a dog. It teaches us a lot about being human, and makes you wonder about your own dog.
What is your most-prized possession?
Possessions are really just that … but if I had to pick, I guess my most-prized would be photos of family and friends. They really are priceless and are vehicles that let you enjoy memories of the past.
What do you do for fun?
I love to run. It really serves double duty, keeping me in shape while at the same time allowing me time to collect my thoughts. I also love to cook and entertain family and friends. Together as a family, we love to travel and enjoy skiing, fishing and scuba diving.
Please describe your greatest accomplishment.
I’m most proud of our children, and their ability to forgive, love and care for others in spite of difficult challenges that they have faced.
What is your motto or philosophy of life?
Anyone who knows me will tell you my motto is “It’s all good.” Life is too short, so don’t sweat the small stuff, focus on what is important. As for my philosophy on life … I have always told my children (or anyone who will listen) if you have to tell someone how cool you are, well, you’re not that cool. Don’t force yourself on anyone; in the end, if you are worthy, it will be evident.