Former YSU trustee Lyden dies at 86
Mahoning Valley leaders are remembering William “Bill” J. Lyden as a community activist who brought determination and good humor wherever he lent his hand.
The longtime Youngstown State University trustee died Wednesday in Salem Medical Center. He was 86.
Jim Burgham, business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 64 of Boardman, said Lyden was a well-respected, longtime union leader who worked hard for the members.
“He always encouraged the other members to get involved,” Burgham said.
The IBEW Local 64 averages about 350 electrical workers in both residential and commercial work. Burgham has been the business manager of the IBEW Local 64 since 1996. Lyden was in the same position for more than 20 years, Burgham said.
In his work with the union, Lyden established residential work for union members by working with local contractors, Burgham said. He also revitalized Local 64’s residential apprenticeship program for future electricians to get experience in working on the residential side.
At YSU, Lyden served as a trustee from 1975 to 1989, and president from 1977-78.
Harry Meshel, also a former YSU trustee, although not at the same time as Lyden, said Lyden will be missed.
“He was a great friend of the working man, but also had a deep respect for members of the businesses that employed those workers,” Meshel recalled Thursday. “He was one of the most balanced people.”
Lyden dealt with some difficult times for both labor and industry, and also left his mark on YSU, Meshel said.
“I believe he was around when we created Meshel Hall, and he saw the value of that and was a strong supporter of it,” Meshel added. “He was a strong supporter of the university itself.”
Meshel said he relied on Lyden for his input regarding labor rights and legislation during Meshel’s tenure in the Ohio legislature.
Cynthia E. Anderson, university president from 2010-2013, spent her career at YSU. “What I remember about Bill is, he was a very dedicated individual. And he was always very interested in the academic side of the university, and interested in the academic programs we were pursuing with the students,” she said by phone from Nevada.
She said Lyden and his wife always participated in YSU Women’s Club activities. “He was so much fun. He was always so positive,” Anderson said. “He was so upbeat. You always looked forward to being around Bill.”
“There was never a time when we were around Bill that he didn’t have a smile on his face, “ she continued. “He was really pleasant to be around, and I know he made an impact on the university.”
YSU President Jim Tressel also knew Lyden from Tressel’s days as the university’s football coach. “As a coach, I did not have too much interaction with the board, but he was always a very nice man. He served YSU for a long time,” Tressel said.
Anderson, who was a faculty member at the time Lyden was on the board, added: “He even stayed active and involved after his time on the board ended. He was a well-rounded trustee.
“He was interested in students and athletes and academic programs,” she recalled. “I don’t believe there was any one aspect of the university that he favored. He was looking to make YSU into a great university.”