Leon G. Lyons was born on January 17, 1942 in the Inwood section of New York City. He attended elementary school at Holy Redeemer Convent in the downtown area of Manhattan before moving to Edgewater, New Jersey at the age of 10. There he finished the elementary grades at the Epiphany school in Cliffside. He graduated from Saint Cecilia's High School in Englewood and attended Saint Peter's college in Jersey City and Fairleigh Dickinson University in Paramus. 

During that time he worked for the Aluminum Company Of America {ALCOA}, starting in the mailroom, and then working in their computer department. In 1963, Leon joined the US Army. On completion of basic training, he was assigned to the Signal Corps. He served for two years in Japan on a transmitter site at the prefecture of Kashiwa. While stationed there, he joined the rifle team which competed in major competitions in Hawaii.

After the army he worked for the family business, Jerry's Bar and Reataurant in Edgewater, and the Duro Test Company in Union City, in their computer department. 

In 1968 he moved to Puerto Rico where he was in partnership with his father in a gun shop, "La Armeria Metropolitana". He has competed in international shooting events and represented Puerto Rico in the Central American Games in Cuba, 1969, and the Dominican Republic, 1974. Leon now lives in Florida, USA.

Diving helmets

Besides his passion for fire arms, Leon developed another passion. Diving helmets. In the beginning, he knew nothing more about helmets than what one might see in a movie. From there it was off to the library for more information. Then, later on in life, finally one was bought and exhibited in a special place in the living room.

For most people that would be the end of the adventure. 
Not for Leon. He started trying to trace from the beginning all the history of the copper and brass diving helmets ever made, including the new generation of hard hats, which are beeing made of fiberglass and brass parts. You will understand that the collection did not end after this first helmet. Many more helmets followed and they were joined by lots of other professional diving equipment.

View of The Lyons Maritime Museum that he opened in
1990 in St. Augustine, for five years.
 We see hats, knives, and pumps in a truly marvellous setup.

The book

At one time Leon developed the idea to write a book and share his passion with other enthusiasts all over the world. Some members in his family never thought the project would see the light of day, but after 5 years of preperations and flying all over the world to take photographs, "Helmets of the Deep" was released in 1988. A fabulous book, in limited numbers, containing stunning pictures and information on hundreds of different diving helmets and other equipment. The book is sold out world wide and is now a true collectors item. 

Older diving helmets in Leons' collections in a nice setup on the second floor of Leon's penthouse in Puerto Rico.

Some more recent diving helmets in the office area in Leon's home in Florida. 
Can you determine them? You will find the answers is our museum!

The guestroom is filled with a great knife collection and numerous hardhats.
What wonders us is: "where do they keep the guests !"


The helmet on the book's cover is a very early 12 bolt 3 light Augustus Siebe helmet.
 What would be more thrilling than to dive this helmet?

Click here to continue to part two of the Leon Lyons article

All text and photographs in this article are copyrighted by Leon Lyons