Pioneering business man and philanthropist Dr Pearse Lyons, founder of Alltech, had a lifelong vision for a sustainable future. He died from heart complications at his home in Kentucky on March 8th, aged 73.
Born in Ireland, Dr Lyons emigrated to the United States with his young family, an impressive resume, and a big dream in the 1970s.
The Dundalk native sought to contribute to the future of a sustainable planet and leave a positive impact on not only the environment, but the lives of his consumers. To do so, he founded Alltech, what is now a global multibillion dollar business, with just $10,000 in his garage.
Alltech today employs more than 5,000 people in 128 countries. The major international business focuses on improving animal, crop and human health and performance through its innovative use of yeast fermentation, enzyme technology, algae and nutrigenomics.
Dr Lyons' scientific expertise, business smarts, and unrivaled knowledge of the process behind yeast fermentation propelled Alltech to become a world leader in both the animal and human feeding, nutrition, and supplement industries.
Central Kentucky-based Alltech, which reports annual revenues of about $3 billion, also operates a brewery and distillery. Dr Lyons' son, Dr Mark Lyons, will now take over as chairman and president of the family-owned company.
Dr Lyons has been fondly remembered as a music lover by Everett McCorvey, the director of University of Kentucky Opera Theatre.
"One of the reasons we have so many wonderful singers at the University of Kentucky is because of the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition, which was his idea. It has changed the face of UK Opera Theatre," McCorvey wrote in the Lexington Herald Leader.
Pearse and his wife Deirdre, pictured below, sponsored the aforementioned UK competition, and the Alltech Celebration of Song at The Square each Holiday season.
The founder is remembered as a keen vocalist, often leading his international teams in impromptu sing-songs everywhere from conference rooms to bars.
"Pearse felt that the way to get to warm up to any businessman, customer, acquaintance or friend was through song," McCorvey recalls.
Read More: Kentucky whiskey maker moves to Ireland
The University College Dublin educated Dr Lyons was one of six children born to Thomas Kevin and Margaret Lyons. While his mother's family boasted five generations of coopers who supplied barrels to distilleries in Ireland – neither of his teetotaler parents ever touched a drop.
Dr Lyons also obtained postgraduate degree masters and doctoral at the British School of Malting and Brewing in Birmingham - he was the first Irishman to do so.
After interning at the Guinness and Harp Lager breweries, working for a time as a biochemist for the makers of Jameson whiskey, and helping design the Midleton Distillery for Jameson, he was asked by Irish distillery Gems Whisky to help ethanol distillers in Kentucky improve their processes and thus packed his bags and made the voyage with his young family.
Dr Lyons is survived by his wife Deirdre, his Irish-born children Dr Mark Lyons and Dr Aoife Lyons (global director of educational initiatives for the company).
Funeral masses will be in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, fittingly on March 17 and in Dublin, Ireland, in April.