This interview is with Bettina O’Neil Lyons, who goes by Tina. Tina’s family arrived in Tucson in the 1860s and, by the early 20th century, they had become some of the most successful businesspeople in the city. Her grandfather was Albert Stienfeld, owner of Stienfeld’s Department Store and the Pioneer Hotel, both anchors of downtown Tucson for over a century. Tina has chronicled her family’s history in her book Zeckendorfs & Stienfelds: Merchant Princes of the American Southwest, so the conversation naturally began with a bit of family history. But Tina’s life also yields many glimpses into Tucson and this interview covers student life at the University of Arizona in the mid-1950s, life in Tucson as a young parent in the 1960s, Mexico in the 1960s, and developments in downtown Tucson from the 1950s to today. Tina was also extremely active in local organizations, particularly Rio Nuevo, the Tucson Community Foundation, and the Tucson Museum of Art, all of which are discussed here.
This interview was recorded on June 17th, 2017.