John Lyndon was born and raised in Macon, Georgia, where he graduated from Lanier High School. He started college at the University of Georgia in 1965 but flunked out in 1966. He then joined a U.S. Naval Reserve Unit where he served for a couple of years on an aircraft carrier to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War. Unable to re-enroll at UGA, he attended Macon Junior College for a year and then transferred to UGA where he earned a business degree, cum laude, and then a law degree in 1976. He began his own general law practice in Athens soon after, with a focus on family law, which he has been practicing for decades. John serves on the board of The Big House in Macon (the Allman Brothers Museum.) He lives in South Jackson County with Tricia, his wife of 51 years, and three and a half feral cats.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It is not boring, is really challenging, and takes a lot of energy and effort to do it well. We are helping people through some of the worst times in their lives and they begin to appreciate that as we get to the end of the process, so we get a lot of positive feedback and gratification from that for sure. It is stimulating. We frequently go to court, so there is anxiety, stress and risk associated with that, and you can’t win all the time. There are a lot of different aspects of this work that cause it to be very stimulating, very interesting and very not boring. I have the benefit of having my wife Tricia work with me since we opened the office forty-three years ago. Tricia is the office manager, the glue that holds the office together and runs the operation. I can talk a good game, but I don’t write that well. Tricia graduated cum laude with a major in English literature and a minor in French literature from Sweet Briar College and has an excellent command of the English language. Every document that comes out of our office goes through Tricia, and I get credit for them because I sign them, but we all know Tricia is the drafter. I am also fortunate to have two excellent paralegals, Terri Mobley and Ashley Cook. We are a great team, and I couldn’t practice law without them.
When you are not working so hard, what is something you like to do in or around Athens in your free time?
I am a big music fan so one of the great things about Athens is that it has a wonderful musical community and good venues for touring bands. I like to get out as much as I can and catch live music at places like the Georgia Theatre.
What is one of your most memorable musical experiences or shows that you have attended in your lifetime?
I am not a huge Grateful Dead fan, but I saw the Dead back in the 1970s at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. It was a magical night and right up there at the top of the list. And, of course, you can’t talk about music in Athens without mentioning Randall Bramblett, who is one of the most talented musicians that I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. Tricia and I never miss any of the live performances of his band.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?
I have been to the Serengeti Plain in Africa once, and I would just love to get back there and see the migrations. There are a million wildebeests and a half a million zebras migrating across this beautiful African plain, with all of the predators to escape and rivers to cross, and it is just a sight to behold. You just feel like you have stepped into a National Geographic video with all of these incredible animals crossing back and forth across the Maasai Mara River.
If you could see any band or show anywhere, dead or alive, who would you want to see and where?
That is an easy answer. If I could go back in time to March of 1971, I would see the Allman Brothers Band at the Fillmore East, the original band with Duane Allman and Berry Oakley before they passed away. They recorded a live album there which I have listened to a few hundred times and it is generally considered to be one of the best live rock and roll albums ever recorded. If I could be there on one of the nights they recorded that album, I wouldn’t miss it.
Do you have a favorite movie or a movie you first saw in a movie theatre or a movie you find yourself rewatching?
I think it is hard to beat Dr. Strangelove: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb, with Peter Sellers, George C. Scott and Slim Pickens back in the 1960s. Here it is 2021 and we are not that far from it really! I have thought about that movie a lot of times, including when I was on the naval aircraft carrier and watched the nuclear armaments being moved about the ship. It didn’t feel very far from Strangelove.
What advice would you give your younger self now at this point in your life and career?
Well, I am an alcoholic. I quit drinking in 1978, after I started practicing law in 1976, when I realized I could not practice law and be drunk at the same time, so I had to give one of them up. Thinking back, I would have advised myself to quit a lot earlier than I did.
Also, I think I would have told myself that your future is not determined by your high school achievements or lack thereof.
After almost fifty-two years of marriage, what advice would you give to younger couples or couples just starting out their relationship?
I think the key to being successful in your relationship with your spouse is compromise. Nobody gets their way all the time. If you can make concessions even when you don’t think you should have to, that is really helpful. Of course, you cannot beat mutual respect and taking to heart what each other has to say. You don’t get to be a jerk all the time. Respect and compromise, and of course marrying the right person certainly helps.
What is something interesting about you that most people might not know?
I come from an interesting family on different levels. I grew up in Macon, but my grandfather was born in Athens. His uncle, my great great-uncle, was the owner of the Lyndon House, where the Art Center is now. He was a surgeon and studied surgery in Germany before the Civil War, then was a surgeon during the Civil War and stopped practicing medicine at the end of the Civil War. He had seen enough. My grandfather’s sister, Mary Lyndon, in 1916 was the first woman to get a degree from the University of Georgia, five years before women were admitted. There is a dormitory named after her. Interestingly, she already had an undergraduate degree from Columbia University in New York. At that time, women could audit classes at UGA but could not get a degree. She audited classes during the summer for a Master’s degree, and one day she showed up and asked, “Here are my credits for a Master’s degree, so where is my degree?” She then became the first woman to get a degree, and later the first Dean of Women. My three brothers have all toured with rock and roll bands, either as tour managers, guitar techs or equipment managers, with Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, The Allman Brothers and Deep Purple. So, they call me the “white sheep of the family.” My uncle Andrew Lyndon, my father’s brother, was a writer and a spark to other writers in the late 1940s and 1950s. He was in New York and part of the entourage with Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Christopher Isherwood and Harper Lee. There are a lot of stories that came out of those times. Perhaps my most interesting relative was “Soapy” Smith, my great- grandfather’s second cousin. He was a gangster in the late 1800s who ran a criminal organization in Denver and later Skagway, Alaska where he was shot dead in 1898. The bar that he owned in Skagway is still in operation.
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word “home?”
Peace, refuge and quiet. The law office is chaotic and bustling, and home is a peaceful country refuge as long as the deer hunters are not firing away.