Richard Elmer Lyon was born January 10, 1913 in Fort Scott City, Kansas. His parents were Elmer and Leota Lyon. His father was a life insurance actuary.
In 1932 he studied for one year at the Kansas City Art Institute, in Kansas City, Missouri, where he met two lifelong friends, who were both soon to become pulp artists as well, R.G. Harris and Emery Clarke.
In 1933 he moved to New York along with R. G. Harris, Emery Clarke, and another alumni from K.C.A.I, the illustrator John Falter. They all opened a shared art studio at 560 Main Street in New Rochelle, a northern suburb with a vital community of prestigious illustrators.
Richard Lyon sold freelance pulp covers to G-Men Detective, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Adventures, Thrilling Western, and Western Story Magazine.
According to R. G. Harris, "Though in competition with each other, we were always eager to lend a helping hand when help and encouragement was needed. When a desperate need for a model was called for, our group showed its immense acting ability by posing for each other. We were all hams. We all left the pulps around the same period, except Clarke, who stayed on."
Richard Lyon soon found work as an interior story illustrator for slick magazines such as Redbook and Cosmopolitan.
In 1941, before war was declared, he enlisted as a private in the National Guard. He was recorded to be six feet tall and to weight 160 pounds. He served in the Coast Artillery Corps and Mine Planter Service during WWII.
After the war he continued to paint illustrations for advertisements, as well as regular interior story illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post.
In 1951 he moved to Arlington, Virginia, and began to work for the government.
In the 1953 he married Mary-Alice Lyon and they raised three children, Deborah, Michael, and Stephen. He set up a painting studio in his basement, but he found less and less free time to paint.
In 1965 the Lyon family moved to 3871 Tazewell Street, Arlington, Virginia.
In 1975 he moved to Carmel Valley, California to be near his children.
Richard Lyon died in a Monterey hospital of complications from a fall at age 89 on January 11, 2002.
© David Saunders 2009