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Eugene Martin Lyons

Lebanon, N.H. — Eugene (Gene) Martin Lyons, a longtime resident of Norwich, Vt. and Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, died at his home at the Woodlands in Lebanon on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. He was 88 years old.

Gene was born in Revere, Mass. on Feb. 29, 1924, and attended Revere High School and Tufts College.  His college education was interrupted by service in the U.S. Army from 1943-1945, where he served on the European front in the final months of the Second World War, and for which he was awarded the Bronze Star. After the German surrender in May 1945, Gene was in the town of Wurzburg, Germany; where he worked to repatriate persons from Eastern Europe who had been captured by the Germans and used as slave labor. This experience led Gene, several years later, to a job with the United Nations International Refugee Organization, whose major task was to care for the displaced persons who remained in Germany and Austria after the war.  In the fall of 1945, while waiting to be shipped back to the States, Gene enrolled in a drama program at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England. His love of theater, and musical theater in particular, endured throughout his lifetime. Gene returned to the States in January 1946 and completed his undergraduate degree at Tufts in 1947.

Inspired by his wartime experiences, Gene returned to Europe shortly after graduation from Tufts and received a License in Political Science from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. He joined the United Nations International Refugee Organization in Geneva in 1948, where he worked until 1952, followed by a stint with the United Nations’ Korean Reconstruction Agency in New York from 1952-1956.  It was during his Geneva years that he met Micheline Pohl, a press officer with the World Health Organization. Although attracted to his looks and intellect, Micheline would be the first to admit that it was Gene’s MG, in which they traveled widely throughout the French countryside, which played a significant role in their courtship. They wed in September 1951 and were married for 57 years.

Gene obtained a PhD from Columbia University in 1958, and spent the remainder of his professional life in academia, primarily at Dartmouth College, where he was Professor of Government and Orvil Dryfoos Professor of Public Affairs until his retirement in 1994. He held numerous posts at Dartmouth, including Director of the College’s Public Affairs Center (1961-1966 and 1973-1975), Associate Dean for the Social Sciences (1974-1978) and acting Director of the John Dickey Center for International Understanding (1995-1997). He also held positions as lecturer in American foreign policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1961-1970), Executive Secretary of the Advisory Committee on Government Programs, National Academy of Sciences (1966-1968), Director, Department of Social Science, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (“UNESCO”) (1970-1972) and visiting professor at the University of Paris, Sorbonne (1986). A respected authority on international organizations and their role in shaping American foreign policy, Gene co-founded and directed the Academic Council of the United Nations System, served on the Council of Foreign Relations and the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, and was a delegate to the UNESCO General Conference. He is author and co-author of numerous books and other publications.

Gene remained active in retirement. He held the title of Professor Emeritus at Dartmouth, taught in the College’s ILEAD program, wrote articles and edited publications, and was a Senior Fellow at the Dickey Center, Director of the Center’s United Nations Institute and trustee of the Norwich Public Library. He spent time at the family home in Wellfleet (Cape Cod) Mass., played tennis into his 80s, and travelled extensively throughout the world. He is predeceased by Micheline, a teacher of French at Dartmouth and Director of the College’s Rassias Foundation, and survived by three children, Catherine and Mark of Oakland, Calif., and Daniel of Brighton, Mass.; one grandchild, Sophie, who is currently following a somewhat similar path as her grandfather as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon; and a sister, Roberta Konen, of Green Valley, Ariz.

A memorial service is scheduled for the spring. Contributions in Gene’s name may be made to the Academic Council of the United Nations System, or to the Norwich, Vt. Public Library.