Bachelor of Science, Iowa State University, 1951.
She was known for creating elaborate butter sculptures at the Iowa State Fair from 1960 until 2006, when she retired. She also created sculptures for other state fairs, as well as commissioned works for celebrities and politicians. She studied animal science at Iowa State University, because they did not allow women in their Veterinary Sciences program at the time.
There she trained in sculpture with artist Christian Petersen.
The couple had nine children. In 1960, she took over the Iowa State Fair butter cow creation, a tradition since 1911.
She later expanded to creating other sculptures, including Garth Brooks, Elvis Presley, John Wayne, Peanuts characters, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, American Gothic by Grant Wood and the Last Supper. She also made busts of Katie Couric, Matt Lauer, Barack Obama and a cheese bust of David Letterman.
Lyon appeared on To Tell the Truth in 1963, and was correctly identified as the Butter Cow Lady by the panelists.
She later appeared on Late Night with David Letterman with a cow carved from cheese. She was the subject of a 2002 book, The Butter Cow Lady, written by Brenda Mickle. On June 26, 2011, she died of a stroke in Marshalltown, Iowa, age 81.
Member County Democratic Center Committee, Tama, Friends of Extension International Skating Union '91. Member American Association of University Women (treasurer 1987-1991), Iowa 4-H Foundation (trustee 1986-1991), Arts Council Tama-Toledo Area, Iowa Jersey Cattle Association, American Jersey Cattle Association (Honorary membership award, 2007), National Dairy Shrine (state membership chairman), 4-H (honorary), Alpha Delta Pi, AJCA (honorary).
Married Gaylord Joe Lyon, July 22, 1950. Children: Emily, Mark, Eric, Michelle, Gregory, Valerie, Lori, Kurt, Douglas.