Alltech Founder Pearse Lyons Has Died

Pearse Lyons, the founder and president of global biotech company Alltech, died today at the age of 73.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Lyons died from complications following heart surgery.

“We are all deeply saddened by my father’s passing,” Mark Lyons, Pearse’s son and Alltech chairman and president, said via a press release. “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.”

Lyons, an Irish entrepreneur, launched Alltech in 1980 and built the company into a multibillion-dollar business with more than 5,000 employees worldwide.

Lyons’ nearly 40-year career in the alcohol industry started in 1980, when he established the Lexington, Kentucky-based Alcohol School in order to teach distilling.

Nearly 20 years later, Lyons purchased the Lexington Brewing Company as it was closing. He renamed the operation Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. and released Kentucky Ale, a blend of an Irish red ale and an English pale ale. He also began aging beer in bourbon barrels from local distilleries, releasing what would become his company’s flagship offering, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, in 2006.

In 2008, Lyons began distilling whiskey. Four years later, he opened Town Branch Distillery, the first new distillery in Lexington in more than a century, across the street from the brewery. Town Branch was later added to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and inducted into the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. The distillery now produces a line of spirits that includes Pearse Lyons Reserve malt whiskey.

In 2015, Lyons acquired two international breweries — Station Works Brewery in Ireland and Cumberland Breweries Ltd. in England.

And last year, after renovating the long-shuttered St. James’ Church, Lyons and his wife, Deidre, opened the Pearse Lyons Distillery at St. James in Dublin.

Lyons is survived by Deidre, daughter, Aoife, son, Mark, and Mark’s wife, Holly.

See his obituary here. A press release announcing Lyons’ death is included below.

Dr. Pearse Lyons, Alltech president and founder, dies at 73

LEXINGTON, Kentucky – It is with great sadness that Alltech announces the passing of its founder and president, Dr. Pearse Lyons. Lyons died on Thursday, March 8, due to an acute lung condition that developed during his recovery from heart surgery. He was 73.

“The thoughts of our entire Alltech family around the world are with Dr. Lyons’ family, specifically his wife Deirdre, daughter Aoife, son Mark and Mark’s wife Holly,” said Alric Blake, CEO and treasurer of Alltech.

“Dr. Lyons was a visionary entrepreneur who transformed the agriculture industry beginning with his innovative application of yeast technology in animal nutrition. From farm to field, from market to family dinner table, our world is immeasurably better because he was a man who never saw problems, only a challenge that had not yet been solved.

“He inspired everyone he met with his energy, enthusiasm and passionate belief in possibilities. He instilled that positivity in his people, more than 5,000 Alltech team members around the world. I am confident I speak on behalf of all of them when I say that we are deeply honored to have known and worked for such a great man. We will resolve to honor his legacy by deepening our commitment to his customers and all the innovative ideas he believed in so strongly.”

To continue driving forward his vision for serving the agriculture industry through field-proven innovations, Dr. Lyons established a clear leadership structure, including:

  • Dr. Mark Pearse Lyons, Chairman and President
  • Alric A. Blake, Chief Executive Officer and Treasurer
  • E. Michael Castle II, Vice President and Secretary

As the company’ director of corporate image and design, Mrs. Deirdre Lyons will continue to further Dr. Lyons’ vision for Alltech’s global presence and their shared commitment to philanthropy and community involvement.

“We are all deeply saddened by my father’s passing,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, Pearse’s son and chairman and president of Alltech. “He always focused on developing people, and he built an extraordinary team over the years. I know he had full confidence in his team to continue growing the company he built.

“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.”

Dr. Lyons’ family are deeply appreciative of the many prayers and well wishes they have received from friends around the world. At this timye, they kindly ask that any expressions of sympathy, including memories and tributes, be shared at alltech.com/pearselyons.

In lieu of flowers, the family is encouraging donations to the Alltech ACE Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that funds a variety of philanthropic endeavours around the world from disaster relief to primary schools in Haiti. Donations may be made at alltech.com/pearselyons.

Funeral masses will be in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, on March 17 and in Dublin, Ireland, in April. A special celebration of life will be held on May 20 at the beginning of ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference in Lexington.

Public visitation in Lexington will be on Friday, March 16. Arrangement details will be kept up to date on alltech.com/pearselyons.

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