Tami was born September 30, 1971 in Salina, Kansas. Shortly after birth, she was adopted by Jerry and Mary Laird and began life in Rock Springs, Wyoming. When Tami was two months old, her father, Jerry, was killed in a hunting accident. Following the accident, her mother, Mary, continued to raise Tami and her brother Tom in Rock Springs.
While growing up in Rock Springs, Tami made a lifelong friend with Christy Doak, who Mary lovingly referred to as the “brat down the street”. The two lived just a few doors apart for a majority of their childhood, were college roommates, and Christy was Tami’s Maid of Honor. The bond between Christy and Tami was truly unbreakable.
As a child, Tami’s mother would take the family on an annual summer vacation to Louie Lake in Wyoming. It was while camping that Tami would spend time with another lifelong friend, Sheila Mack. The two would spend their summers fishing, swimming, making rafts, and playing cards and board games.
When Tami was 14, her mother had a brain aneurism. This event caused Mary, Tami, Tom, and their extended family to relocate to Shelley, Idaho. Tami attended Shelley High School and graduated in 1990. While in Shelley, Tami worked many jobs that she loved such as Rax, Sizzler, and the Potato Harvest. For her 16th birthday, Tami was surprised with meeting her biological mother Barbara Smith of Salina Kansas, along with her “dad” Stan Smith, their children Christopher and Kim, “Granny” Mary Gillum, and uncles Darrel and David and extended family.
After graduation, Tami worked for Key Bank where she met her dear friend Heidi. One of Tami’s favorite stories was the moment she found out her new friend was set to marry another dear friend, Gary!
Tami enrolled at Idaho State University and moved in with her friends Christy, Brandi, and Lee. While many parties were whispered about, the spring break trip to Los Angeles was a secret for life. We still haven’t seen the photos from that trip! Tami later enrolled at the University of Idaho in 1994. She majored in Elementary Education and continued working at Key Bank.
In June of 1995, Tami met the love of her life, Brett Lyons, in a fateful shopping trip that bonded the two together immediately. Shortly after Tami told her mother Brett was her “knight in shining armor” and the two were engaged on Christmas Eve 1995. They still proudly display the 98 cent ornament that was the center of the proposal.
In June of 1996, Tami gave birth to Mary Madison Riley. Tami bragged for years about her all natural birth. While pregnant with Maddy, Tami could be seen playing music to her through headphones while taking a bath and reading to her every night before she went to sleep. Tami called her “munch munch” due to her voracious appetite for Wendy’s and Subway. Tami and Brett were married on October 19, 1996 and lived together in Moscow under they both graduated from the University of Idaho in the Spring of 1997, alongside her mother-in-law Joyce.
The family of three relocated to Nampa, Idaho when Tami was offered a job at Chaparral Elementary in June of 1997. While teaching at Chaparral, Tami established lifelong relationships with dozens of students, parents, and staff. One of her favorite student memories was when she paired two new students together in her third-grade class. The two went on to become best friends and thanked her in a wedding speech years later. Tami’s favorite part of teaching was working with students that needed help learning to read. She worked tirelessly to see an improvement to the reading scores of every student that entered her classroom. Tami’s second favorite part of teaching was watching her students grow into amazing adults years down the road. She loved attending graduations, weddings, and various other events for her past students. She remained a valued advisor and bachelorette party attendee to many.
In May of 2003 Tami welcomed her son Michael. He was another all natural birth as he arrived quickly during a routine visit, after pretending to arrive at least three times before that. Tami danced Michael to sleep to “their song” almost very night for two years until he insisted on being read to rather than dance.
In 2004, the Lyons family moved to Sutter Creek, California. While there, Tami taught Gifted and Talented in the Amador School District while holding down the house, homeschooling Madison, and exploring California. The family moved back to Nampa in 2005 when Tami gave birth to her second son Charlie in August. Tami had immense pride for Charlie as he was her one and only “9 pounder” and cherished his free spirit and shared loved or dance and music. The bond between these two was unbreakable!
In 2007, Tami returned to teaching. She began teaching at Ronald Regan Elementary in Nampa to be close to Madison and Michael who both attended the school. Once again, Tami made fast friends with parents, staff, and students, especially those who were classmates of Michael’s. Tami later stayed home to enjoy Charlie’s last two years before Kindergarten, and stayed busy by joining the PTA and the Columbia High School Marching Band Booster Club. While volunteering with the Marching Band, Tami touched the lives of many of Madison’s peers. She was referred to as “the cool mom” by the entirety of the marching band. She was easily identifiable in her Marching Band sweater that said “Maddy’s Mom” on the back and never missed a fundraising opportunity.
Tami resumed to work at Key Bank in 2012, but shortly after left and returned to her true passion: teaching. Tami worked at Central Elementary in Nampa and eagerly joined her friend Kendall at Idaho Arts Charter School, establishing herself as the advocate for the students who needed the most help.
When she wasn’t chasing after Marching Bands, being a football mom, or a little league baseball cheerleader, Tami spent her time enjoying the outdoors. Gardening, camping, boating, and water skiing were among her favorite hobbies. Tami was loyal to her many childhood friends as well as every friend she made along the way. Some of her favorite memories in Nampa were made with neighbors. When invited to help with an event held at the LDS church, she was initially nervous of this new environment. But once she was referred to as “Sister Lyons” she immediately felt welcomed and loved. She loved talking to and helping the LDS missionaries that visited the neighborhood, and always felt proud watching the neighborhood kids grow up and serve on their own missions. She loved her neighbors like family and treated the entire Loar family like her own.
Though Tami loved her friends dearly, it was with her family that she found the most joy. Tami had many special aunts and uncles. Her mother, Mary, was the center of her world. Every time the clock struck midnight of the new year, Tami and her mom would call and “kiss” on the phone to celebrate. She had an almost sister-like relationship with her cousin Terry and was the Godmother to all of Terry’s children. Tami had an unbreakable bond with her brother Tom. They overcame many obstacles together and children and adults. Tom was her childhood protector, and she in turn became his protector and advocate in adulthood. Tami and Tom were more than siblings, they were best friends.
Tami was preceded in death by her parents, special uncles Jim, Jerry, and Danny and her grandparents. She is survived by her husband Brett, daughter Madison (21) of Boise, and sons Michael (18) and Charlie (12) in Nampa. She is also survived by her brother Tom Laird of Idaho Falls, nephew Christian Laird of Georgia, several aunts uncles, and cousins.
There will be a service for Tami at St Paul’s Catholic Church at 510 W Roosevelt Ave in Nampa on Friday May 18th at 11AM followed by a reception at the LDS church on 3904 E Greenhurst Rd at noon.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks you to please make a similar financial contribution to the Backpacks for Kids program at the Idaho Food Bank. Tami was passionate about children getting enough to eat and often packed lunch for a child in need.