His Life

Life in Florida

The couple moved full-time to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida around 1990.  Nancy played bridge, learned Mahjong, and again got their social life in gear.  Phil attempted golf and became involved in their community association.  He spent many years on the Palm Beach Gardens Planning and Zoning Commission, enjoying both the work and the people he worked with.

In 2013, they decided to downsize and put the house on the market.  In late summer, Nancy was diagnosed with early stage Pancreatic cancer.  Their house finally sold and the kids flew down and helped finish the move to the La Posada Senior Living community in time for Christmas.  In January, everyone was back together in Boston, where Nancy had surgery for her cancer.  

Phil and Nancy enjoyed two years together living in La Posada, with Phil helping care for her before she passed away on September 7th, 2015.

Phil suffered a serious and dibilitating stroke just before Nancy passed, He himself passed away only seven months later on April 7th, 2016 with his daughters and son-in-law by his side.

Empty Nest and New Job

The girls went through their teenage years in the 1970’s convinced that their parents enjoyed the Beatles “White Album,” and the song “Sweet Leaf” by Black Sabbath.  What their parents actually enjoyed were Joan Baez, Tom Jones, Linda Ronstadt, and Barbara Streisand, to name a few.  Late nights in the living room everyone laughed to George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” schtick (as they say in New York), as well as the television show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”  Phil proved to his family on several occasions that he knew (most of) the words to “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” from The Pirates of Penzance opera by Gilbert and Sullivan.

By 1975, Phil had transitioned from Litton Industries to Norton Simon, Inc., where he rose to Assistant General Counsel.  That same year, his youngest daughter went away to college and he and Nancy became empty nesters.  The girls went on to be independent after college, and the couple travelled frequently, including to Tunisia to visit Cliff and Beth.

In 1984, Phil took a position with American Bakeries as a Vice President, becoming a Senior Vice President in 1985.  American Bakeries was taken private by their senior management and then sold in 1987. At that point Phil decided to retire and he and Nancy travelled extensively in the 1990’s.  Their itineraries included Hawaii, New Zealand, an African Safari in Kenya, Scotland, France, and the Orient Express. It was a wonderful time of adventure for them after a career and raising a family.

Sailing and SCUBA Diving

After spending time on a friend’s sailboat, Phil and Nancy met another couple who were interested in sailing and together they purchased a wooden sloop in the spring of 1968.  “Jackstraw” was an old racing boat; a plaque on one of the bulkheads commemorated her completion in the distant past of the Bermuda race.  She was 40 feet on deck, only 27 feet at the water line, with a sixty-foot mast and a six-foot draw.  She slept four in very Spartan quarters. It was a love affair for Phil and an adventure for the family.

From then up to the early seventies, every other warm-weather weekend was spent either on the boat, or maintaining it.  Each summer, there would be a two-week vacation when the Lyddon family would sail Jackstraw up to Cape Cod, and their boat partners would sail her back.  During one such trip in July of 1969, the old wooden boat was being brought into harbor under sail while the family strained to hear the radio broadcast of Neil Armstrong’s moon landing.

While summers were spent on the boat, there were several winter trips to the Caribbean.  They went to one of the early Club Med’s in Martinique, where Phil and Cathryn did a resort course and SCUBA dived.  Another year was the Cayman Islands.  They stayed at a little grass-shack and bungalow hotel on a beach no-one had ever heard of called “Rum Point.”  This time both girls went diving with Dad, where the visibility underwater was 200 feet; so clear, it seemed as if they were flying, not swimming, above the bottom.  Later they went to Bonaire, where SCUBA diving was a daily activity for both Phil and his girls. 

Transferred to New York

While Phil was working for Litton Industries they bought their dream house.  It was in the Palos Verdes hills with (very) distant views of the ocean.  They had been there for about a year in 1966, when Phil came home one day to tell his wife he had been offered a promotion.  The only catch was, they would have to leave all their family and friends and move to New York.  With such an important career move at stake they did so, taking two weeks to drive across country with their children, arriving in New York in November. 

Phil would laugh and tell the story about when he and Nancy bought their home in Scarsdale (just outside New York City). They were a bit surprised to be greeted at the bank by a small reception line and champagne on ice.  It took a moment or two for them to realize the greeters believed they were shaking hands with the “Mr. Litton” of Litton Industries.  He said he never forgot the look on the banker’s faces when he signed his name “Lyddon.”

The beloved MG had been left in California.  Phil now commuted to his office on Park Avenue via train.  Nancy worked to get their east coast social life going.  By some small miracle, Phil’s older brother Cliff, who had been posted all over the globe for most of Phil's adult life, happened to be working in New York at just that time. Cliff and Beth had two boys about the same ages as Phil’s girls and both couples were happy to discover that they greatly enjoyed the company of the other.  The young families shared Christmas, skied, and sailed together until Cliff was again transferred away.

Law School and Parenthood

Phil remained in Korea until late December of that year.  Upon returning home, he attended UCLA School of Law, and joined the Army Reserve (where he served for almost 10 years) while Nancy took a secretarial job.  They lived in the married student housing, made friends with other couples, and rejoiced that their budget allowed for exactly one weekly splurge of a six-pack of beer.  In the summer of 1955, their eldest daughter Cathryn was born.  Barbara followed in the fall of 1957.

Phil graduated, passing the California bar in 1958. He intended going into private practice with partners however the night before the new office was due to open, a fire broke out and the office was destroyed.  He then took a position as a corporate lawyer and came to specialize in government contracts, antitrust, mergers and acquisitions.  At the time he was appointed to the National Panel of Arbitrators in 1963, he was working for Litton Industries in Beverly Hills. 

Phil and Nancy remained close with their law school friends.  Weekends were spent on the California beaches, watching each other’s kids, and playing volley ball.  Nancy was an avid bridge player.  Their music was Barbara Dane, the Tijuana Brass, and the new broadway hit West Side Story; vacations were in the mountains or in Mexico, both with and without the kids, and there was lots of time spent with inlaws and other family.  Phil drove his MG to work, and spent many Sundays tinkering with it.  

Marriage and the Military

By his senior year, Phil had started dating Nancy, who was two years younger.  They were engaged by the time he graduated in 1952, with plans for a big wedding in California.  Shortly after graduating, Phil joined the army, which saw fit to send him to “Tank School” in Kentucky in preparation for going to Korea.  When his deployment date was pushed up, the big wedding was re-arranged to be a family road trip to Kentucky.  They were married there in March of 1953, shortly after his 21st birthday.

Within two months, Phil was deployed to Korea as an officer of the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division Tank Company.  In June of that year, while forward of the main line, the tank he was in command of detonated an enemy mine, resulting in injuries and loss of life among the crew.  Phil was injured as well, including what became a life-long hearing loss in one ear.  The army awarded him a bronze star for his actions to ensure that all of his command were evacuated safely.

Growing Up

Phillip S. Lyddon was born Phillip Schuyler Pann in January of 1932, during the Great Depression.  He was the second of two children and named after  a recently deceased uncle, Phillip Schuyler.  The name goes back to a paternal ancestor who had settled in New York in 1650. 

When Phil was three years old, his father was killed in a refinery fire.  His mother went to work to support the family.  Seven years older, brother Cliff was old enough to remain at home, while at age 8, Phil was sent to military boarding school. 

The economy was on the mend and World War II was underway by the time his mother married Arthur Lyddon, who had three boys by a previous marriage.  Arthur adopted Cliff and Phil and they officially became Lyddons in 1945.  Phil went to public school with his new brothers, got involved in scouting (eventually making Eagle Scout), learned to drive on a fire truck, and hunted rabbits. 

In 1948, Phil attended the University of Arizona at Tucson, where he enrolled in the Army ROTC program.  He majored in business administration, fenced competitively, and joined the Sigma Nu fraternity.  Later in life he enjoyed telling stories about the fraternity’s unique mascot – a lioness named “Siggy Noo” who lived in the guest room (she had been a gift to the fraternity as a kitten in 1943), and also about the time two pet rattlesnakes escaped their tank and were lost in the frat house, never to be found.