Lionel L. Layden
August 17, 1930 – February 1, 2021
Born Aug. 17, 1930 in Manhattan Beach, CA Lionel L. Layden, resident of Mobile, AL for 64 years, passed away at home on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Lionel is survived by his wife of 50 1/2 years, Mary Lou McConnell Layden, 3 daughters- Laura Layden Cassidy (Bill) of Baton Rouge, LA, Lisa Layden Pelham (Marc) of Mobile, AL, and Ginger Layden Braun (Dan) of San Francisco, CA, 7 grandchildren- Will, Meg, and Kate Cassidy, Joseph and Emma Pelham and Benjamin Pelham, and Annabelle and Turner Braun, and 1 great grandchild, Samuel Cassidy. Other family members include brother and sister-in-law, Eddie and Mitzi McConnell, 4 nephews, Vince, Mitch, Stan, and Baker McConnell, 2 nieces, Melissa Fuselier (Prentice) and Kimberlee Duck (Jeremy), as well as great nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Lionel spent his early years under the sunny California skies at Manhattan Beach, CA surfing the Pacific waves on his mother’s wooden ironing board. Recounting those happy days he would thank the heavens no one was hit by that heavy board or it could have killed them ! He and his buddies would draw a sundial in the sand and when the shadow fell on 3:00 PM they knew it was time to go home. Lionel’s love of Southern California never left him as he would often explain, “It’s the AIR”.
Lionel’s father, Colonel Lionel L. Layden, Sr. joined the Air Force when Lionel was still young, and then began the many and varied living experiences with deployments all over this country as well as China and Japan. Lionel attended three different high schools- Woodlawn High in Birmingham, AL, a school in Japan, and Hempstead High on Long Island, NY where he was graduated, and excelled in all sports in each school. There were multiple stints in China and Japan throughout the years where he picked up the languages fairly quickly as a boy and teen. As an adult it was common to hear Lionel converse with his Chinese and Japanese acquaintances whenever their paths crossed. Throughout his life Lionel would entertain friends and family with colorful accounts of his personal adventures.
Warm and gregarious Lionel never met a stranger. He was interesting and interested in all things and in people of all backgrounds. In conversation there was rarely a subject about which he didn’t know at least something, and if he didn’t know he was eager to learn.
When the time came to apply for college the University of Alabama quickly accepted Lionel in spite of some credits in Chinese and Japanese ! Thus began his lifelong love of the Crimson Tide. He joined the Alabama tennis team, although he was a competitive badminton star and runner-up state junior champion in California. But he adjusted his stroke and then lettered in tennis at Alabama during his first two years. A small college in Jacksonville, AL, Jacksonville State University, offered Lionel and a teammate a full ride scholarship and he finished his second two years of college lettering in tennis and discovering there his desire to practice law as a vocation.
Entering law school at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa was the beginning of a life devoted to helping people and one of service in the law community in Mobile, AL. He graduated in 1957 and immediately came to Mobile with his first wife, Thyra Mae Hamrick Layden, and their first daughter, Laura. Lionel, or “Poss”, as he was commonly known in those years, was an assistant DA then joined the firm of Moore, Moore, Downing, and Layden. This partnership later split and George Moore and Lionel formed their firm of Moore and Layden on Dauphin Street where he practiced law for 28 years. Lionel was active in the Mobile and State of Alabama Bar Associations during his law career, always willing to serve in whatever capacity he was needed. In Nov. of 1986 Lionel was appointed by then-governor George Wallace as a State District Court Judge in the 13 th Judicial Circuit in Mobile. While remaining in this seat for the next 12+ years he was also appointed a Special Circuit Court Judge hearing both Circuit and District court cases. After retirement from the bench in 1999 he enjoyed court ordered mediation and arbitration practice for several years.
Since his tennis days in college this lifelong sport was a big part of Lionel’s life. Whether playing weekend matches with tennis friends, competing in USTA sanctioned tournaments, organizing Labor Day invitational tournaments at his tennis facility, organizing and running tennis tournaments at State Judicial Conventions, or supporting Jaguar tennis at the University of South Alabama his presence was always felt. If there was a tennis event in Mobile “Mr. Tennis” was there !
Lionel’s interests and activities were as varied as his earlier travels. He enjoyed and gave great effort to fishing, hunting, card playing, golfing, and snow skiing to mention a few. The common thread in all his participations was his love and enjoyment of the many friendships he made along the way. A “people person” if ever there was one, he was the “life of the party” at any event, grand or simple, with stories and jokes always ready to entertain ! Charismatic and charming he was also down to earth and pragmatic. Comfortable in all settings he never lost touch with who he was and what he was about. He leaves this world a better place due to his life’s work and he leaves with the unconditional love of his family and many friends.
The family wishes to honor and thank his caregivers, companions, and helpers during his years of dealing with the ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease: Edna Hutchinson, Kim Slater, Pam Hughes, Moyo Fawole, Benita Austin, Payton and Leola Davis, Sharon Grimes ,and, most recently, Sharon Fantroy. Saint Joseph’s Hospice provided caring and diligent services for many years and the doctors, nurses, aides, and other staff are thanked by the family, from the bottom of our hearts. The care of the above mentioned individuals prolonged and enriched the life of a wonderful man.
Burial arrangements are by Pinecrest Funeral Home. A visitation will be held at 10:30 to 11:30 at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 6300 McKenna Dr., Mobile, AL ( 251-342-1852 ) on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. Due to Covid 19 concerns a family-only service will be held in the sanctuary following visitation. Pall bearers are Marc, Joseph, and Benjamin Pelham and Bill and Will Cassidy. Burial will be at the Pinecrest Cemetary Mauseleum following the service at Corpus Christi. Condolences can be made at www.pinecrestfuneralhome.com. . In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 225 N. Michigan Av., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601, or at act.alz.org/donate, Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 6300 McKenne Dr., Mobile, AL 36608, or to the charity of your choice.
- Mary Lou Layden, Wife
- Laura and Bill Cassidy, Daughter and Son-in-law
- Lisa and Marc Pelham, Daughter and Son-in-law
- Ginger and Dan Braun, Daughter and Son-in-law
Friday, February 5, 2021
Mass of Christian Burial
Friday, February 5, 2021
Friday, February 5, 2021