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A Fitting Tribute – The Barbara Lyons Legacy

Last Friday’s tribute event celebrating Barbara Lyons’ 40 years of life-saving work with Wisconsin Right to Life was a night to remember.  It had all the elements of a great celebration.  

Those gathered for the standing-room-only program were treated to beautifully sung music, moments of laughter and touching words of tribute for Barbara’s work via video from friends coast-to-coast. A framed apostolic blessing from His Holiness Pope Francis was presented to Barbara. Numerous in-person guest speakers included newly re-elected Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch who each gave moving messages thanking Barbara for her work and encouraging all right-to-life supporters to carry on that work into the future. 

Governor Walker said Barbara Lyons embodies a wonderful combination of gifts, especially tenacity and compassion. He went on to say to Barbara, “The best testimony to your leadership over the past four decades isn’t just the remarkable number of people who love you in this room and others that they represent, its the fact that today, our neighbors, sometimes people we might work with, friends, co-workers, people we meet around the state, every once in a while we run into someone — we don’t know, but — they are alive because of your work. There are untold numbers of people among us today walking in this state who would not be alive without [your efforts], and that is your greatest legacy of all.” 

In addition to his kind remarks, to rousing applause, Governor Walker declared Monday, November 10, 2014 as Barbara Lyons Day in the great State of Wisconsin. 

“Barbara,” Lt. Governor Kleefisch said, “you have taught a generation of Wisconsinites to love generously and give freely. You taught that to my little [daughter] Violet, and you taught that to a room full of admirers here tonight. And you will teach it as your legacy for many, many, many years to come.” 

President of the Wisconsin Right to Life Board of Directors, Michelle Farrow presented Barbara with the first-ever Wisconsin Right to Life Lifetime Achievement Award, saying, “Barbara, tonight I want to make you a promise — a promise from all of us — Wisconsin Right to Life is going to continue to build upon the strong foundation that you have formed. You are in our hearts and minds. And when we grapple with issues, whether they are budget, legislative or policy, I guarantee you, we are going to ask, what would Barbara Lyons do?” 

Upon accepting the award, Barbara said, “Words cannot express how grateful I am for this wonderful evening, for my family, for our staff, for our Board of Directors, for our Chapters leaders, for our government officials, for everyone here — it’s just an honor and a privilege to be associated with all of you.” 

“I think the Governor said it best,” Barbara continued, “there can be no reward greater than knowing that there are people that walk, laugh, and dream and have a future because they have been touched in some way by our work.  I thank each and every one of you here tonight. God bless you!” 

A beautiful citation from the Wisconsin State Senate presented by Senate President Mary Lazich lauded Barbara’s efforts to save lives through Wisconsin Right to Life’s public policy efforts bringing about multiple pieces of life-saving legislation; the educational outreach of the Veritas Society media campaign; teen and college training programs and development of the organizations’ state-wide grass-roots efforts. 

The evening was a fitting tribute for this woman of faith and fortitude, focusing on more than the past but the future as well.  In her closing remarks for those gathered, Wisconsin Right to Life Executive Director Heather Weininger invited everyone to take part in strengthening the cause Barbara devoted her life to, by donating the newly created Barbara Lyons Legacy Fund.  Heather explained the fund will help build the future capabilities of Wisconsin Right to Life by enabling the organization to respond quickly to urgent needs and to be nimble enough to create new life-saving opportunities on short notice.

Visit WRTL.org/Legacy for more information and to learn how you may contribute to the Barbara Lyons Legacy Fund.    

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