Wife of slain officer thankful for community


CONWAY — Mary Ann Lyden is going back to school this week, and while some teachers might have a different attitude, this educator is looking forward to the coming school year.

Her husband, Horry County Sheriff Department Corporal Dennis J. Lyden, 44, was shot during an early morning traffic stop on Highway 544 in early summer.

His widow has been a teacher at North Myrtle Beach Elementary School for seven years, and when she returned last week with other teachers, she saw familiar faces, people who have supported her throughout the summer.

“They’ve been in touch with me all summer. I’ve got three of the largest families in the world now. They are all wonderful. I’ve got the police department; my family at school, all the teachers and staff; and I’ve got my own personal family. Nobody could feel more love than I feel right now.

“I love teaching. It’s what I’ve done for 16 years. I love the kids, and I love the school. Being busy is good too. They asked me if I’d be coming back, and I said, ‘I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t teach.’ I enjoy it.”

Father ‘Rick LaBrecque and the parishioners of St. James Church have also supported Lyden.

“It was a little tough going back the first time,” she said. “You feel like you’re not going to get through it, but I do; Father ‘Rick is a wonderful person. The people in the parish have been so great. They are ready to be there when I need them.”

The Horry County Fraternal Order of Police, to which her husband belonged, organized a Dennis J. Lyden Memorial Fund. Donations will support police projects. Some of the money was donated to purchase bulletproof vests for local police dogs.

“So far the response has been just overwhelming,” said Lieutenant Charlotte Stephens of the Support Services Division. “The last account I had was over $5,000. We’ve been overwhelmed by the response,”

Donations may be sent to: Dennis J. Lyden Memorial Fund, Horry County Police, 2560 North Main St., Conway, SC 29526.

Last week, a resolution was made to the Horry County Council to name S.C. Highway 544 after Corporal Lyden. The measure will have to be approved by state officials.