Dr. Pearse Lyons, an entrepreneur, visionary and philanthropist, passed away on March 3rd. In his 73 years, Dr. Lyons built a world-class brand and, in turn, brought the world to Central Kentucky...
Dr. Lyons was born in Ireland to a pair of teetotalers. On his mother’s side, he was descended from five generations of coopers who supplied barrels to distilleries. His parents owned a grocery shop, which inspired Pearse’s entrepreneurial spirit.
His first job at 14 was at Harp Lager, working in their laboratory. After graduating from University College Dublin, Ireland with first-class honors, he did his postgraduate study at the British School of Malting and Brewing, where he gained masters and doctoral degrees in brewing science from the University of Birmingham–the first Irishman to do so. He interned with Harp Lager and later worked as a biochemist for Irish Distillers, the makers of Jameson.
Dr. Lyons married his wife, Diedre, in 1972. Shortly thereafter, they immigrated to the United States with their two young children and Pearse’s vision: to sustain the planet and all things living in it by applying his yeast fermentation expertise to agricultural challenges.
In 1980, he tackled this lofty goal in his garage with an initial investment of just $10,000. In the first year, the company turned over a million dollars. Since then, Alltech has expanded to encompass some of the global animal health and nutrition industry’s most advanced facilities. The company now includes a crop science business and research into human health challenges, such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
In 1999, when the former Lexington Brewing Company was closing its doors, Dr. Lyons purchased it to resurrect the brewing and distilling tradition of Lexington that dates back to 1794. Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. is known across the globe for their Kentucky Ale offerings. Town Branch Distillery was the first distillery built in Lexington for more than 100 years and became a part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, helping bring tourists to Lexington.
Dr. Lyons played a key role in getting the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games to Kentucky, which led to his receipt of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s first-ever Legacy Award in 2011. Among his other accolades, Dr. Lyons was named Business Person of the Year by Business & Finance magazine and received the rarely-presented official US Army Commander’s Award for Public Service.
The Lyons family has given back to the world community in countless ways. Dr. Lyons established Alltech’s ACE Involvement Foundation to help fund the company’s philanthropic efforts. From funding and overseeing the construction of more than a dozen science laboratories at primary schools in Ireland and Kentucky to offering scholarships and awards to university students who aim to help the world, Dr. Lyons held a deep passion for education. Alltech helped fund numerous other initiatives, charitable endeavors and local events.
“We are all deeply saddened by my father’s passing,” said Pearse’s son, Dr. Mark Lyons, chairman and president of Alltech. “He saw farther into the horizon than anyone in the industry, and we, as his team, are committed to delivering on the future he envisioned. He planted seeds that will produce a bountiful harvest for the world in the years to come.”
A special celebration of his life will be held on May 20th at the beginning of the 2018 ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference in Lexington. Donations may be made in Dr. Lyons’s memory to the Alltech ACE Foundation by visiting alltech.com/pearselyons •