|7 Dec 2020|
John Mather was an incredible force of energy and enthusiasm - as a pupil at John Lyon, as an Old Lyonian, as a doctor, as a US public health advisor, as founder and President of the Churchill Society of Tennessee, and so many other things.
John joined John Lyon in 1954, son and nephew of Old Lyonians. His School career took off early, through running - he won the junior cross-country in the April of his 4th year and received athletics colours later in the year for successes in the half-mile, 880 yards and 440 yards. By the end of his School career he was Head Boy, was giving first aid lectures through the CCF, had won the Geography Prize and received the first Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award given to a John Lyon pupil, paving the way for the scheme to be rolled out in the School.
John left School in 1962 to become a doctor. He studied at Middlesex but then moved to the USA where he became an eminent ears, nose and throat physician. Later in life, he became an advisor to the US government on public health.
John returned to visit John Lyon in 2017 with his brother, Martin (OL 1959-1965 and also John Lyon Head Boy). During his visit, John talked to boys about his time at School - his highlight, he recalled was meeting Winston Churchill. It was after Harrow School's Songs when, as John Lyon Head Boy, John was invited back to the Headmaster’s house to meet the special guest. He had been so excited to meet the School's special guest that when it came to speaking with him John (perhaps for the only time in his life) was lost for words, managing just a brief "Sir" before dashing off. Churchill became a lifelong fascination for John and he became an expert on Churchill's health and adviser to many historians writing Churchill biographies.
Another passion of John's was bow-ties. So keen was he on them that he had one specially created for John Lyon Heads of School (see picture below). These bow-ties are intended for former Head Boys and Deputy Head Boys (see www.oldlyonians.org/shop).
John stayed in touch with the School throughout his life. He and Martin were close friends of their Head Master, Boyd Campbell, until his death. Shortly before he died, Campbell gave the wrist watch he was given on his retirement by the pupils and staff of John Lyon to the Mather brothers, who returned it to the School on their visit in 2017.
John was in regular contact with the Lyonian Office, discussing plans for his next visit and coming up with new ideas all the time – how to raise funds for the new CCF band, an exchange scheme with his local school in Tennessee, as well as the bow-ties, to name but a few. At a recent event for former Heads of School, John gave an impromptu speech – wide-range and entertaining but mainly it was about his love of the School. He will be much missed by the School and fellow Lyonians.
He loved and was much loved by his children, Stephen and Alex, and his granddaughter, Maggie-Sue, along with many nieces and nephews and their children.
John's memorial will be live here from 30 January at 5pm and will be available afterwards.
Martin Mather sent this link to another obituary for John (https://churchillsocietytn.org/).
We also received the photograph below of the CCF Senior NCOs in the Red House Garden 1961 (from Les Allen-Williams), with John in the centre, front row.