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Volume 6, Issue 95  | November 26, 2021


Hoag receives transformational gift from family of General William Lyon for Leadership Center

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian last week announced the establishment of the General William Lyon Leadership Center after receiving a transformative gift from the family of the late real estate magnate William Lyon. This Center, on the Newport Beach campus, will provide state-of-the-art space for collaboration among clinical and hospital leaders. 

The generous gift was made by Lyon’s wife, Willa Dean, to honor the legacy of its namesake, who was also decorated for his 35 years of service in the military. On Wednesday of last week, the Lyon family attended a demolition ceremony for the new space. 

Hoag receives photo in frame

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Photo by Kevin Warn

Framed photo of General William Lyon adorns a table at the Leadership Center demolition ceremony

In addition to his long career as a Southern California real estate developer, General Lyon had a distinguished military career, which began in 1943 and culminated in his promotion to major general and his service as chief of the Air Force Reserve from 1975-1979. A former command pilot who never lost his love of flying, Lyon was responsible for the activities of U.S. Air Force Reserve units around the world and is credited as the catalyst behind bringing the Air Force Reserve up to active duty standards. 

General Lyon received numerous awards and decorations, including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three oak clusters and the Presidential Unit Citation.

He also influenced the landscape of Southern California through his long career as a quality homebuilder and contributed greatly to the philanthropic and business community. He began building houses in 1954 after returning from active duty in the Korean War. He operated a series of homebuilding companies, the most recent of which was Newport Beach-based William Lyon Homes Inc. During his career, which spanned more than six decades, Lyon was responsible for the construction of more than 100,000 homes, making him one of the country’s largest homebuilders. 

General Lyon also owned several aviation companies, cofounded the Lyon Living property management company, was founding chairman of the board of Commercial Bank of California and founded the Lyon Air Museum. He passed away in 2020. 

“General Lyon left transformative legacies in business and community causes that changed the lives of many. We are so grateful that his impact will also touch Hoag,” said Flynn A. Andrizzi, Ph.D., president of the Hoag Hospital Foundation. “This generous gift from his family will provide a space for all Hoag leaders to envision, plan and lead together.” 

The Leadership Center will serve as a focal point where Hoag executive, governance and medical leadership can come together. Though these three highly effective leadership groups serve different functions, their commitment and ability to act as one unlocks a level of excellence, quality and service to the community not commonly seen in the current health care landscape. The Lyon family sees the Leadership Center as a fitting tribute to a man who valued the pioneering spirit and drive to shape the world for the better. 

Willa Dean said she is proud to carry on her late husband’s legacy by establishing the Center. “This Center will align with what my husband valued. He knew the importance of being a leader who looked to the future to improve the lives of others,” she said. “Hoag physicians are also looking ahead for the next best treatment or procedure to help patients, and my wish is for this space to inspire them as they do that.” General Lyon’s son, Bill, echoed his mother’s sentiments: “It’s important that health care leaders work together to find innovative solutions, and we hope this Center is the place where great ideas for Hoag’s future come to fruition.” 

Hoag receives Willa and son

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Photo by Kevin Warn

General Lyon’s widow Willa Dean and son Bill Lyon initiate demolition of building on site to house new Leadership Center

The General William Lyon Leadership Center will renovate and expand the current James Irvine Surgical Center at the main entrance of the Newport Beach campus. The project is expected to be completed in 2022. 

The space will feature board and conference rooms, executive offices and large open spaces for meetings. A portion of it will be dedicated to Hoag’s physicians and physician leaders to find restoration and rejuvenation within their daily work. Spaces such as a lounge, fitness room and sleeping areas will allow physicians to refresh and recharge in order to bring their very best to their patients and staff. 

“As one who had the fortune of knowing General Lyon and his authenticity, his relentless pursuit of excellence, his generosity and his personal charm, I can think of nothing better than having his name signify the servant leadership that Hoag’s governance personifies and reassure the community of our own commitment to his legacy,” said Michael Brant-Zawadzki, MD, FACR, Ron & Sandi Simon Executive Medical Director Endowed Chair, Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute. 

“I had the distinct honor of personally knowing General Lyon as a community leader and homebuilder,” said Daniel Young, who sits on the Hoag Hospital Foundation’s board of directors and is the chair of Hoag’s board of directors. “He was a man of boundless energy, integrity and compassion. He saw a need in our community and gave his all to meet it. He was generous with his time, his money and his incredible connections. To have such a great leader’s name on our Leadership Center is a fitting tribute to him and an inspiration to all of us at Hoag.”

Young continued: “The General William Lyon Leadership Center not only furthers Hoag’s impact on our community by equipping our leaders for increased collaboration and innovation but will also play a part in influencing the broader health care landscape by facilitating connection among leaders across the country.”

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