We honor the life and lasting legacy of Yvonne Carlyon, a Saint of Methodists Helping Methodists Foundation. In 2011, when she died at the age of 96, she left the remainder of her estate to the Foundation. This gift created a dramatic shift in our ministry and resulted in a grant program. Since then, we have granted money to 122 different churches and ministries. Mrs. Carlyon also left the first 50% of her estate to the First United Methodist Church in Durango, Colorado.
For many years at the Foundation, Mrs. Carlyon was our unofficial third employee. She had outlived her Charitable Gift Annuity, meaning there was no remainder. The contract with the Foundation assured her that every month, she would receive $875, and we paid this out of the Foundation’s operating budget.
When she died, we learned that the gift annuity payment sustained Mrs. Carlyon. She had very little cash assets or income. Her home on Main Street in Durango was the biggest asset in her estate, but she could not use the equity in her home to buy groceries or pay for daily expenses. At her death, her will instructed that the house be sold and more than 90% of its proceeds should go to two charities. The first 50% went to the First United Methodist Church in Durango. Then there were specific gifts of about $10,000 each to eleven different friends, nieces and nephews. The remainder of her estate was left to the Foundation. She was so grateful for the years of support from the Charitable Gift Annuity and wanted to leave a gift that would provide a substantial impact toward its mission.
First United Methodist Church of Durango was the center of Mrs. Carlyon’s life in Durango. She knitted hundreds of dishcloths for the church bazaar as a member of the Crafty Ladies. A member of the Chancel Choir and Esther Circle, Mrs. Carlyon was known as the card lady for recognizing members’ special days. She taught Sunday school classes and was a familiar face at the Methodist Thrift Shop.
“Her sense of humor and quick wit were her legacy,” her church friends said. “Anyone who knew her was richer for that friendship. This great lady and faithful member is missed by many.”
Despite living in this country for 62 years, Mrs. Carlyon remained a legal alien resident. In 1915, she was born in Bern, Switzerland. When she was old enough, she worked as an elevator operator in a department store in Switzerland, but she wanted to travel and learn English. In 1949, the Fletcher family, friends of her parents, had a ranch in Steamboat Springs and invited her to be an au pair.
Yvonne brought a passion for music with her to the United States. She quickly found a home in the local Methodist church, where she played the organ and sang in the choir. In church, she met the love of her life, a single minister named Alfred Carlyon, and they soon married.
Alfred and Yvonne moved to Durango in 1953, when the Rev. Carlyon was assigned to First United Methodist Church on East Third Avenue. They fell in love with the city and the area and returned after Alfred retired. Mrs. Carlyon worked at Riverview Elementary School for almost 20 years as a Title I and kindergarten aide, working with children in small groups, teaching them their numbers and letters in French. She also performed a multitude of tasks around the school just to help out.
Thank you, God, for Saint Yvonne Carlyon.