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Ted LyonsBy GERRY POSNER The standard advice to students is not to leave school, but to get an education. We all might agree that is advice worth listening to but, what if you were asked to leave school by your teacher in Grade 11?

What if your highly respected English teacher presented the case to you and the principal with a firm statement to the effect that you should be in a trade or other work since you didn’t have “it” to get to or through university?
Well, that is exactly what happened to Dr. Ted Lyons. That scenario unfolded for him in 1958 at Kelvin High School and now, some 58 years later, Ted is receiving the highest honour the University of Manitoba bestows: the Distinguished Alumni Award for Lifetime Achievement. He will be receiving this recognition at a ceremony on May 5th in Winnipeg.
The path from the bottom to the top was not a direct one, but one which got straighter with every passing year. Ted Lyons was that kind of student who improved in school with every passing year from the moment he was accepted into the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba. And then, on the advice of his father, he took a research job in the summer as a student in a rather new field called ultrasound and as they say, the rest is history. This temporary employment ended up leading to a career which gave birth to one of the true pioneers in this specialty. Ted Lyons has never looked back.
Books, texts and medical articles - Ted’s written them; seminars - he’s led them; committees - he’s chaired them; new techniques in the field, he’s created and developed them. All of this and page after page make up the Ted Lyons resumé. The CV is almost as long as is this paper each issue, and it is all truly impressive. When you examine Ted’s CV, you realize why the University of Manitoba chose to honour him, as this award recognizes outstanding achievements in both professional and personal lives. On both counts, Ted Lyons shines.
To compress his accomplishments in radiology and ultrasound to a paragraph is just short of impossible. But, the nub of it all is this: Ted Lyons was a huge force in making ultrasound one of modern medicine’s most widely used diagnostic tools. He was one of the very first to use this technology to assist in locating brain tumours and detecting blood clots. His work with pregnant women was even more startling. He took the tool of ultrasound, used it on fetuses and, by doing so, he proved there was no harm to either the fetus or the mother. Finally,  he was instrumental in shaping the latest machines for ultasound so that what was once a large piece of equipment now is the size of a cell phone. For all of this and much more, Ted Lyons was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2008 as an officer... not too shabby for a kid told to leave school at 15 years of age.
And then there is the personal service side of E.A. Lyons. One could say that when it comes to leadership, Ted rose to the top. He was president of: the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue (30 years after his father),  the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, the Manitoba Association of Radiologists, the  Canadian Radiology Association and, most recently,  chair of the Simkin Centre board.
Of course, to be president of an organization, you have to serve for years in advance of being appointmented,  then after your term you have to serve as past president. When you consider the number of meetings Ted Lyons has under his belt, you might reflect that his Order of Canada and University of Manitoba honours should be for nothing else than just perseverance and patience to sit through all those sessions.
Very few of us could do or would even consider trying to do what Ted Lyons did and that is to give back to the community. He did that in spades and in every instance was motivated by a desire to improve the organization he was leading. That desire has always been the underlying force behind the Ted Lyons persona. A large chunk of that persona was a direct result of the example provided to Ted by his late father, the renowned Dr. Ruvin Lyons. Ruvin would, however, have been the first to acknowledge that his son long ago eclipsed the father in his contributions to his community. To be sure, our community has recognized Ted as he has received two Distinguished Service Awards: the Sol Kanee Distinguished Service Medal from the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and the SRU ( Radiology) Distinguished Service Award.
Of course, in the midst of all this work and participation in community affairs, Ted and wife Harriet (Jacob) were parents to children Mara and Sami and now grandparents to four granddaughters all in Winnipeg.
The moral of the Ted Lyons story is: Try to get a teacher to tell you to drop out. That statement might just light a fire not to be extinguished.

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