Zena Michelle Lyons, known locally as Jyoti Jael, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Feb. 25, 2021, at Hope House in Midland, Texas, where she was staying while undergoing treatment for cancer. She was 67.
Born Margaret “Peggy” Hutcheson Ponton on Oct. 23, 1953, in Fort Worth, Texas, she was the third child of Dr. Arvel and Beryl Ponton. After moving to Alpine, Texas, with her family, she attended Alpine public schools until her junior year, when she transferred to St. Mary’s Hall in San Antonio, Texas. Upon graduating from high school in 1972, she attended the University of Texas in Austin where she received a degree in Anthropology in 1978.
Zena explored different types of employment opportunities, including working for NASA, and seasonal ranger positions with the National Park Service in various locations throughout the southwestern U.S. She also had volunteered with the Peace Corps, and had an assignment in the Philippines.
Zena returned to the West Texas area after having lived in Hawaii for 20 years. She lived in Valentine, Texas, for three years until she moved back to Alpine five years ago.
Zena loved the outdoors, nature, and wildlife (particularly red-tailed hawks and owls), hiking, swimming and whale watching in Hawaii, and travel. One of the highlights of her life was the train trip she took to Copper Canyon, Chihuahua, Mexico. She also had traveled across Australia, and had a memorable trip.
Zena enjoyed books, yoga, music, and discussing philosophies from around the globe, and was passionate about the theory of other intelligent life forms in the universe. She wrote poetry, and was working on a book entitled “Blue Sun Rising” before her passing.
Zena was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her sister Jan Stallard and husband Robert of Alpine, her sister Berry Crowley of Austin, Texas, her brother Jim Ponton and wife Shawn of Fort Worth, and her brother Rod Ponton of Alpine, numerous nieces and nephews, many friends, and her beloved cat Ari. She will be missed by many who knew her.
Memorial donations may be made to the Marathon Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 208, Marathon, TX 79842.
A memorial Celebration of Life ceremony will be scheduled at a later date this spring in Alpine.