Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Deacon Bill Lyday, ‘Servant To The Church,’ Dies

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published October 30, 2008

A former archdiocesan leader and long-time deacon passed away last week.

Deacon Bill Lyday died on Oct. 23 after a brief illness. He was 78.

He is survived by his wife, Beverly, of Marietta, five daughters and one son. He had 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Deacon Lyday served the church in many roles, as one of the early permanent deacons to serve in the archdiocese, a construction director and vice chancellor.

”He was a servant to the church for his entire adult life,” said his son, Kevin.

Deacon Lyday never sought the limelight but was doing the behind-the-scenes work, said Kevin, who recalled working with his father on weekends to build the parish rectory for St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Smyrna. “He was always doing what he could.”

Kevin spoke for the family at his father’s funeral, reading a brief poem he wrote titled “The Servant.” He said his father never stopped serving what he loved: his family and his church.

For close to 17 years, Lyday drove the highways of North Georgia during boom years for the Catholic Church. It was his task as a field representative with Catholic Construction Services, Inc. to be the eyes of the archdiocese as he inspected construction sites.

During his time, Deacon Lyday oversaw some of the largest expansion projects, including $12 million construction at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta.

Before CCS was formed, Deacon Lyday worked as director of new construction in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. He relished spending time in parishes.

“I like to be out in the parishes. That’s the real church out there,” the deacon said when he retired in 1999.

Serving the church was a second career for the Indiana native. He worked for a dozen years as an administrator at Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Atlanta.

Deacon Lyday retired from the Navy after 21 years of service as a master chief petty officer. He was buried with full military honors at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton after a funeral Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Church on Monday, Oct. 27.

Deacon Lyday came to work in the church after he was asked by Father Richard Morrow, then pastor of St. Jude the Apostle Church in Atlanta, to oversee a construction project. The priest encouraged him to enter the newly formed diaconate program.

Ordained in 1982, he became the first deacon to serve as vice chancellor of the archdiocese, where he assisted the chancellor to manage all Catholic Center departments. He was also an administrator of the all-volunteer archdiocesan building committee.

During his ministry, he served at St. Thomas the Apostle; Most Blessed Sacrament Church, Atlanta; and his final assignment at St. John Vianney Church, Lithia Springs.

Deacon Lyday was raised a Presbyterian. His wife introduced him to Catholicism before their marriage. He joined the church in 1952. He also was a member of the American Legion Post 160 in Smyrna and a member of the Knights of Columbus.

His survivors include his children, Lynn M. Wilson (Robert), Sheryl A. Sizemore (Richard), Kevin W. Lyday, Lauren S. Mote (Brad), Shawn M. Lyday, Michelle M. Lyday, and one sister, Marilyn Hudson.