In Sydney last week Australia's Prime Minister Joseph Aloysius Lyons, 59, contracted a chill in the damp autumn weather; two days later he lay dead of a heart attack. His death ended his administration at seven years, three months —just two weeks short of the record made by Prime Minister William Morris Hughes in 1915-23.

Simple, clear-thinking Joe Lyons, who was endowed with all the homely virtues, left a record of accomplishment that might have been envied by what many Australians considered more brilliant predecessors. "Honest Joe" abandoned teaching school for a political career at the age of 30; energy and...

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