Norma Lyon, Iowa fair's 'butter cow lady,' dies

By MARGERY A. BECK | June 27, 2011 | 6:30 PM EDT

FILE - In this Aug. 11, 1999, file photo, Norma "Duffy" Lyon works on her version of "The Last Supper", a sculpture in butter, at the Iowa State Fair, in Des Moines. Lyon, who famously sculpted butter into cows, Elvis and even Jesus for the Iowa State Fair, has died. She was 81. (AP Photo/Rodney White)

Norma "Duffy" Lyon, whose butter sculptures of cows, Elvis and even Jesus and his disciples delighted Iowa state fairgoers for nearly half a century, has died. She was 81.

Lyon suffered a stroke at her rural home Sunday and died shortly after at a hospital, Michelle Juhl, one of Lyon's nine children, said Monday.

Known to most people as the "butter cow lady," Lyon was pregnant with her seventh child when she produced her first bovine butter sculpture, a 600-pound cow, for the Iowa State Fair in 1959. The rural Toledo housewife went on to sculpt a butter cow every year thereafter until she retired in 2006.

Among her butter sculptures over the years were likenesses of barns, a birthday cake, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, Garth Brooks and Smokey Bear.