Lenon came to Little Rock in 1888 after finishing his schooling in Iowa. He helped set up an abstract company shortly after his arrival. In 1902 he organized the Peoples Savings Bank. Among his other business interests were the City Realty Company, the Factory Land Company, the Mountain Park Land Company, and the Pulaski Heights Land Company.
From 1895 to 1903, he was a Little Rock alderman, and in 1903, he was elected Mayor of the city. A progressive Mayor, he championed the construction of a new City Hall which opened in 1908. At the first meeting of the City Council in that building, Mayor Lenon tendered his resignation. His duties in his various business interests were taking up too much of his time.
Mayor Lenon had been a champion for the establishment of a municipal auditorium. He had wanted to include one in the new City Hall complex. But a court deemed it not permissible under Arkansas finance laws at the time. He also worked to help establish the first Carnegie Library in Little Rock which opened in 1912.
Mayor Lenon continued to serve in a variety of public capacities after leaving office. In the 1920s, he briefly chaired a public facilities board for an auditorium district. It appeared he would see his dream fulfilled of a municipal auditorium. Unfortunately the Arkansas Supreme Court declared the enabling legislation invalid.
In 1889, he married Clara M. Mercer. The couple had three children, two of whom survived him. A son W. E. Lenon Jr., and a daughter Vivian Mercer Lenon Brewer. Together with Adolphine Fletcher Terry (also a daughter of a LR Mayor), Mrs. Brewer was a leader of the Women’s Emergency Committee.
Mayor Lenon died June 25, 1946 and is buried at Roselawn Cemetery. Lenon Drive just off University Avenue is named after Mayor Lenon.