Nancy Lyon and Tom Towler live in a light-filled, sixteenth-floor residence decorated with charming paintings which, upon inquiry, Nancy gracefully acknowledges as her own work. Nancy and Tom—as individuals and as a couple—are as busy and as pleasant as their home is full of light and far-reaching views.
Tom Towler visited Siesta Key for the first time in 1931. Tom will tell the story—1931, Siesta Key, 4 years old—and then, with a twinkle in his eye, admit that he doesn’t really remember much about that trip. Still, his visit would be the beginning of a life journey that would lead back to Sarasota, with just a stop—or two—along the way. Nancy Lyon’s path towards Sarasota and Plymouth Harbor was more circuitous, but Tom and Nancy have arrived together at the same place, at the same time: busy, happy, and engaged in the community, both inside and outside Plymouth Harbor.
Nancy grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, on a farm, with mother and father and two brothers and a retired Ringling Brothers circus pony—black with white front socks and a white blaze—named Princess. Tom was raised in West Norwalk, Connecticut, the son of Julliard graduate Lucile and Dartmouth graduate Eugene, an ad salesman for the Curtis Publishing Company, publishers of County Gentleman, Ladies’ Home Journal, and The Saturday Evening Post.
Tom followed his father and his uncle to Dartmouth, where he played varsity lacrosse. Tom continues to support Dartmouth’s lacrosse program—which has expanded to include women’s teams—and is immortalized as a member of the College’s all-time lacrosse roster. Tom is also a regular contributor to the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine’s Class of ’49 Class Note, which chronicles the activities of his classmates.
Nancy graduated from Vermont College in 1964, with a degree in Home Economics. She met her husband-to-be, Bob Lyon, an MIT graduate, at a church picnic. Bob and Nancy were married in 1967 and had two children: Amy and Andrew. Bob went on to work at Grumman Aerospace for 35 years as an electronics engineer; Nancy enjoyed a 10-year position as a social secretary after her children were grown.
Tom’s college education was interrupted by three years spent in the Army infantry.
After his military service, Tom married Sue, and returned to Dartmouth to complete his history degree. Sue and Tom would have a family of four children: Ned, Jill, Jon, and Bill. Tom’s professional career included positions at Standard Oil, Mobil Oil, and Baldwin-United, Inc., and stints as CEO of Top Value Enterprises and Peyton’s, Inc.
When Nancy and Bob retired to Sarasota, they initially lived in the north part of the county. Nancy recalls how much Bob loved Sarasota’s downtown, its cinema and the arts. Nancy and Bob embraced volunteer activities at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, and Mote Marine Laboratory, where Bob helped to write the organization’s volunteer manual. Nancy continued to volunteer at both the hospital and Mote following Bob’s death in 2007 and recently saw the passing of two important milestones at each organization. In 2013 Nancy was one of two Sarasota Memorial Hospital Auxiliary volunteers to give flowers to the very first patient at the new Courtyard Tower orthopedic unit on the Tower’s opening day, and in 2014 she was honored at Mote’s Volunteer Awards Ceremony with a 15-Year Award.
Nancy’s mother moved into Plymouth Harbor after, according to Nancy, “she looked at every retirement home in Sarasota.” Until her death at age 91, Nancy describes her mother as “still very much involved in the outside community” and remembers her as a world traveler, talented homemaker, and fabulous cook.
After Tom and Sue retired to Sarasota in 1985, Tom became a commercial real estate appraiser, a position he continued until 1997. Tom and Sue began to volunteer actively at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where Tom met Bob. In 2008, Tom won an at-large seat on the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board, where he currently serves as Secretary. In addition to his commitment to the Hospital, Tom has also served as a trustee on the boards of the New College Foundation, Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, Siesta Key Utility Authority, and The Field Club.
Tom’s sister Jane Smiley, a Smith College graduate and the first woman vice president of Florida-based retailer Burdines, moved into Plymouth Harbor in 2003 and, according to Tom, loved it. Tom and Sue would follow Jane, moving into Plymouth Harbor in 2009. Shortly after they moved in, Sue died, following a brief illness.
Nancy and Tom have been together since 2010. Both have nothing but praise for Plymouth Harbor, its ambience, and its staff, which Nancy characterizes as kind and thoughtful. Tom, who serves on the Plymouth Harbor Foundation board, mentions Plymouth Harbor’s great leadership and tremendous employees, praise indeed from a man who has been at the helm of billion-dollar companies.
In August the couple visited Paris, enjoying a 28-day sea crossing, and in October Nancy travelled to China. Their Plymouth Harbor home, with its Sarasota sunlight and Nancy’s lovely paintings, is always welcoming when they return.