Prominent Homebuilder William Lyon dies at 97

One of the most influential homebuilders the industry has seen, William Lyon, passed away on Friday at his home in Coto de Caza, Calif. He was 97.

There aren’t enough words that can reciprocate the type of impact Lyon had in both the homebuilding industry and his time serving our country as a decorated war veteran. However, his track record over his lifetime is a clear depiction of his hard work over the years. His 63 years of experience in the homebuilding industry signifies his longevity and ability to persevere.

Known as “The General,” his career in the building industry began in 1954 after he volunteered for the Korean War, when he and brother Leon founded Luxury Homes in Fullerton, Calif. The company started with a 66-home project in Anaheim, Calif. Lyon eventually sold the company to American Standard, taking on the role of vice president of real estate.

Years later, in 1971, Lyon repurchased California assets of American Standard, and founding The William Lyon Co. After a decade, his company became one of the nation’s largest homebuilders.

Lyon always had the entrepreneurial spirit within him. In 1981, he and developer George Argyros purchased airline AirCal for $62 million. And in 1986, they sold the company for nearly quadruple the price at $225 million.

In 1987, and by this time he had already been promoted to Major General, Lyon purchased Newport Beach-based Presley Development. This acquisition played a major role later down the road, as Lyon ended up combining Presley with The William Lyon Co. in 1992, thus creating what is now known as William Lyon Homes.

Lyon’s career is also highlighted by his perseverance. When the housing market crashed in the 90s, Lyon was able to rebound, in contrast to some of his competitors who were never able to recover, according to the Los Angeles Times.

His company prospered for the years after, and Lyon served as CEO until 2013, where he stepped down and passed on the reigns to his son Bill. Despite his age, Lyon still remained involved, assuming a new role as executive chairman for the company. In February, Taylor Morrison closed on the acquisition of William Lyon Homes, making it the 5th largest homebuilder in the nation.

The team at Builder and Developer Magazine would like to extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of William Lyon.





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