James Richard “Rich” Lee, whose personality was evenly matched by his height, handshake and smile, was called from his earthly home to meet his Lord on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 20, 2019. He was 93 years old but at times acted much younger than he was, as evidenced by the countless jokes and words of “wisdom” he bestowed on everyone.
Rich was born in Mishawaka, Indiana, on Sept. 2, 1925, to Donald Willard Lee and Esther V. (Fields) Lee. He was the third of four brothers and one sister. He was married to the love of his life, Elaine Marjorie (Moore) Lee, for more than 73 years. Throughout their marriage, he would put her needs before his own. They had five children: Carolyn (Randy) Morgan, Gregory (Shirley) Lee, Patricia (Robert) Branca, James (Sherry) Lee and Linda (James) Steinbach.
His humor was expressed through his many sayings, such as, “Turn on the green light, we are selling the green suit.” If asked for a tip at a restaurant, he might reply by saying, “Plant your corn early, that is what my father always said to me.” He would, at times, sport a pair of funny nose and glasses as well.
But, with jokes put aside, Rich’s love for his family and fellow man could be felt when you walked into a room where he was or chatted with him over the phone. His love never wavered. He might not say, “I love you,” but his actions spoke louder than words and his warmth and affection enveloped people. One way he did express his love regularly was by encouraging people so as to help build them up. Even with death closing in, Rich continued to write letters from his hospital bed in which he would offer up a kind word.
An accountant by profession, Rich ran his own businesses and worked for large companies such as National Cash Register, Studebaker, Chrysler and General Dynamics, from where he retired. He also kept his keen financial mind sharp through regular investments.
Rich had a heart that was focused on God. Accepting Christ at a young age, Rich was always a witness in each place where he worked, visited and came into contact with the people in his life. He was a soul winner, deacon, Sunday school teacher and a Gideon with his son-in-law Randy Morgan. While in the hospital, Rich continued to share his faith by passing out New Testaments and singing with hospital staff.
Rich is survived by his grandchildren, Andrew Branca, Peter (Nicole) Branca, Amber (Doug) Brown, Ann (Jeff) Mannon, Beth (Julian) Mamani-Laya, Amy (Jeff) Williams, Holly (Matt) Ehlert, Donnie (Bonnie) Reeves, Stephine (Phillip) Kara, Savannah (Mark) Coco, and Nicole Lee. He is also survived by many great-grandchildren, family members and friends.
Visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 25 at Emerald Hills Funeral Home, 500 Kennedale Sublett Road in Kennedale. The funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 26 at Woods Chapel Baptist Church, 2424 California Lane in Arlington.
To honor Rich’s life and service, donations can be made to The Gideons International by sending to The Gideons International Processing Center, P.O. Box 97251, Washington, D.C., 20090-7251. Donations can also be made online at www.gideons.org.