John “Jack” Lyman Jr. had the vision to not only sustain but grow the family business, Lyman Orchards, from an orchard and dairy to include a retail operation and golf course.
Lyman’s son, John Lyman, said Wednesday that he had a broad vision of what the farm could be. “He understood, looking ahead, we had to develop a retail company, so we could look at how we used our land in a broader way,” Lyman said of his father.
Jack Lyman died Monday at the age of 92. The cause was not disclosed.
Lyman became president of the family business in 1955, when the operation was commerical orchards and dairy farming. The state’s agriculture business was declining during that time, but he had a vision to keep the farm operational.
The dairy farm eventually gave way to a 45-hole golf course, and Lyman Orchards also embraced “pick-your-own” events and other so-called “agritainment” activities to draw in more business. Lyman Orchards celebrated its 275th anniversary in 2016
“That diversification of the business was crucial to being able to make the land become more of a destination,” John Lyman said. “He always said, make the business attractive enough for the next generation.”
Still, farming was at his core. According to his obituary, Jack Lyman would say when asked what he did for a living: “I’m a farmer and a fruit grower.”
Lyman Orchards predates the founding of Middlefield. It’s the largest landholding company in the town and second-largest taxpayer.
Along with other destinations like Powder Ridge and Indian Springs Golf Course, Lyman Orchards creates a sense of the town, John Lyman said.
“Our relationship (with the town of Middlefield) has always been very good,” he said. “We’ve benefited from town support in many ways… My dad recognized that, the special relationship we had with the town and gave back when we could.”
Jack Lyman graduated from The Taft School in 1944 and enlisted in the Army, serving in the Korean War. He later graduated from Yale University in 1950.
He and his wife, Kathy, married in 1952, and the couple had five kids. He was predeceased by his wife, but is survived by their five children.