Harry Lyons grew up in Lexington, Va., and attended Washington and Lee University. He earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at the MCV School of Dentistry in 1923. Lyons joined the faculty of his alma mater in 1928 and was professor and chairman of the Department of Oral Diagnosis and Therapeutics and the Department of Periodontology by 1950. That same year, he became the dean of the School of Dentistry, serving until his retirement in 1970. Upon retiring, Lyons was named dean emeritus and a building at the school was named after him.
The Harry Lyons Professorship in Dentistry was established in his honor by gifts from dental school alumni and friends in 1992.