Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 28, 2009
James Kenyard Lee, son of Evelyn S. Lee and the late James Vester Lee of McKenzie, died peacefully at his home, at age 69, in Millbrook, Ala., after a long and courageous battle with cancer, on Friday, April 24, 2009.
Ken was a true humanitarian and an environmentalist at heart, working for such causes as human rights, and a strong and safe environment. He was an endlessly curious and broadly educated man who loved demanding intellectual challenges. He studied at such diverse institutions as the University of Maryland, Alabama State and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He never met a stranger, and was kind, respecting, admiring and sociable with people regardless of their age or station in life. He was always willing to help and give to others in need. At age 17, he was accepted into the Naval Academy at Annapolis, but decided to pursue his love of travel and writing. He became a journalist in the Navy and served as the admiral’s journalist on the USS Des Moines, the flagship of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. During his tour of duty, he interviewed President Eisenhower and covered the first film festival in Cannes, France, meeting Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren.
His life and work were very diverse. He worked for the federal and Alabama state governments, sponsored foreign visitors, organized and toured with a German soccer team through the Southeast, was in the foreign car import business, was active as a homebuilder and developer and set up the first energy fair in Montgomery. His fondest memories were of his four-year presidential appointment as the representative of the Labor Department, to travel to all the military stations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He published several books and magazines, including “McKenzie People”, his favorite account of the history of the people he loved in his hometown. One of his projects included building a pioneer village, which included a covered bridge, gristmill, log cabin and chapel.
The covered bridge, which he christened “Mother’s Bridge”, has been featured in a book, news articles and magazines. The prayer chapel in particular brought him great comfort and peace during his illness — and remains as a proud legacy to his beloved family and God. An avid reader, he cherished books on history, biography and nature. He joyfully tutored environmental students for many years. Most of all, he loved his family and the times he spent with them.
Ken was preceded in death by his beloved sister, Jackie Casey. He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Brigitte Kilg Lee; daughter, Jo Maria (Anders) Lindstrom; son, James Anders Sean Lee (Ulrike); grandchildren, Miria Lee and Fox Lindstrom; beloved mother, Evelyn Lee; sisters, Jerita Braun, Judy (Steve) Stark, JoAnn (Jimmy) Lawrence, Janet (Frank) Lanier and Lena Lee; and loving nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles and countless good friends. We love him and miss him, but he will never be forgotten.
Visitation will be held at Johnson Funeral Home in Georgiana, on Tues., April 28, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be at the Sweet Home Baptist Church in McKenzie on Wed., April 29, at 11 a.m., followed by graveside services. A community memorial will be held Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Covered Bridge Chapel in Millbrook on Willow Tree Drive.
We wish to thank Dr. Steven Davidson, and nurses Terri, Leslie, Donna and all the wonderful medical team at the Montgomery Cancer Center that we came to know and love in helping us through this difficult journey. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Montgomery Cancer Center.