Richard B. Lyman, Jr. ’57, P’87

Richard B. Lyman, Jr. ’57, P’87 died on August 23, 2020, in Norway, Maine. 

(The following was published by Chandler Funeral Homes on August 23, 2020)

Richard Bardwell Lyman Jr. (Dick) died at Norway Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Norway, Maine, on August 23, 2020. Born in 1936 in New York City, the middle child of Dorothy (Gerrish) Lyman and Richard B. Lyman, Dick grew up in West Nyack, New York. He graduated from Bowdoin College as a member of the ROTC program in 1957, served in the Army Transportation Corp until 1960, and in the reserves until 1964. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and taught at Bowdoin College, Simmons College, and Brandeis University. He came to Simmons College, Boston, in 1967 as a medievalist and rose to professor, chair of the History Department, and director of the East Asian Studies Program before retiring in 1998. For the next ten years he taught Modern Japanese History at Brandeis. He lived in Sweden, Maine, during vacations from 1975 and full-time since 2011.

Dick loved to learn and his interests took him in many directions. A trip to Japan in 1988 inspired him to learn Japanese and earn a fellowship to spend a semester reading Japanese literature and history. For three years he joined Simmons students learning Japanese and worrying just as much as other students about quizzes and exams. For the last fifteen years of his career, he taught courses in Japanese history.

His other love was local history. He wrote several articles on the history of towns in central Massachusetts, and put much energy into exploring the local history of Sweden, Maine, and its environs. He founded the Sweden Historical Society in 1978 and studied the area’s geology, history, and people from the Ice Age to the present. Dick loved to share his findings in Sweden talks and walks each summer, which eventually evolved into Sweden Days, held annually during the first weekend in August. He wrote, illustrated, and printed his talks, which he gave to anyone for a contribution to the Historical Society.

Dick loved to travel and incorporated his experiences in Japan, China, and Vietnam into his teaching, making history real with photos and personal stories. After retirement he and his wife took bicycles trips to Europe, and he became a member of “Bears on Bikes” to raise scholarship money for Bowdoin College for his 45th, 50th, 55th, and 60th reunions. He was especially delighted that one of his sons and a grandson attended Bowdoin, graduating thirty and sixty years after he did.

He was a wordsmith and excelled in telling puns, jokes, and funny stories. He would catch others by surprise when he said that he knew all languages, but he actually did study Latin, French, German, medieval Latin, and Japanese.

Dick is survived by Kathleen, his wife of forty-eight years, his son, Richard Jeffrey Lyman and his wife, Leslie, of Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, and his stepson, Jonathan Graves of Astoria, Oregon, as well as six grandchildren, of whom he was exceedingly proud. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and former students who have kept in touch with him over the years.

1 Comments Richard B. Lyman, Jr. ’57, P’87

  1. A My Home Phone

    I just found a letter from Dick Lyman postmarked 6/2020. It was a letter of encouragement and wonderful humor and caring for me, his former student. What a big heart Dick had. I know I was one of many students who received letters to boost our spirits, encourage us, and help us be our best selves. I am so sad to learn of his passing. He did so much to help the world around him thrive.


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