Natalie Lee (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

  • Follow Obituaries

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Natalie Lee, a North Carolina native born on August 21, 1920, and a 63-year resident of Augusta, died on January 28, 2010. After entering college at age 15, she received her Bachelors degree in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her Masters degree in Medical and Psychiatric Social Work from Simmons School of Social Work in Boston. While pursuing her post-graduate degree in Boston in 1941, one of her friends told her that she really should meet a fellow Southerner named Lansing B. Lee, Jr., who was a student at Harvard Law School. Soon thereafter there began a courtship and, within two years, Natalie and Lansing were married in Bethlehem Chapel at Washington National Cathedral during the midst of World War II. After the war ended and after Mr. Lee completed his legal studies at Harvard, the couple returned to Augusta to continue their new life together. When Mr. Lee died in 2005, they had been married for 62 years. Mrs. Lee and her husband were active communicants of St. Paul's Episcopal Church as well as other Episcopal groups. Both of them were for many decades enthusiastic participants and supporters of Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal conference center in the western North Carolina mountains, and were members of its Board of Visitors. In honor of Mr. Lee, Mrs. Lee recently established and endowed at Kanuga the annual Lansing Lee Conference, designed to attract keynoters of national renown to discuss issues surrounding the application of faith in everyday life. In addition, Mrs. Lee served for a number of years as the East Georgia Chairman of the National Cathedral Association, a national organization supporting the mission and ministry of Washington National Cathedral. Throughout the last twenty-five years, Mrs. Lee was also an enthusiastic participant in Jane Howington's Wednesday Bible class at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church. Natalie delighted in perceiving a need in the community and working behind the scenes to address that need. In the late 1960's, long before the proliferation of day care centers, she realized that mothers of limited means were prevented from entering a job training program because they had no one to care for their young children. Undeterred, she convinced St. Paul's to purchase a house on Walker Street and lassoed sometimes unsuspecting parishioners and community members to donate labor and materials to renovate the house. The St. Paul's Church Day Care Center soon opened for business. As a long-time member of the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of Historic Augusta, Natalie was instrumental in that organization's purchase and restoration of two adjoining houses on 7th Street that were the homes of boyhood friends President Woodrow Wilson and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Lamar. When money was scarce to purchase the Lamar house, she button-holed then-Mayor Charles DeVaney at a party and told him that the Lamar house was too important to Augusta's heritage to lose and that he just had to find the money to buy the house. Miraculously, the Mayor found the funds in the City's budget. Mrs. Lee was also a long-time member and former board member of the Junior League of Augusta and was the Founding Chairman of the Junior League Speech and Hearing Center. Mr. and Mrs. Lee shared a strong commitment to education and were loyal supporters of the Medical College of Georgia. In honor of her late husband, Mrs. Lee was instrumental in the recent magnificent renovation of the exterior entrance, lobby, conference room and other public areas of the Auditoria Center, all of which are in constant use by both the Medical College and the Augusta community at large. In addition to the essential role of providing the funding, she delighted in being an active participant in the design and execution of the renovation. In keeping with her respect and support for less fortunate people who have overcome their prior circumstances, Mrs. Lee established the Natalie and Lansing B. Lee, Jr. Presidential Scholarship at Augusta State University. These scholarships are awarded to Juniors and Seniors at Augusta State who have exhibited persistence, perseverance and determination in the face of academic and personal obstacles. Mrs. Lee and her husband shared a life-long love of music from the earliest days of their courtship when they attended the Berkshire Music Festival in western Massachusetts. Both of them, together with their close friend Emily Remington, were instrumental in founding and singing in the Augusta Choral Society in the 1950s, and the renowned group continues to thrive today. The Lees were long-time patrons of the Augusta Symphony and the Augusta Opera, and Mrs. Lee was a Board member of the Augusta Symphony Guild for many years. They also frequently attended performances of the Metropolitan Opera in Atlanta and in New York. Natalie was renowned for her gift of hospitality at her and Lansing's home in Augusta as well as their summer home in Cashiers, North Carolina. She delighted in welcoming new people of all ages to Augusta and introducing them to long-time Augusta residents at one of their famous "supper parties." They often entertained out-of-town company and distinguished visitors to the Augusta community. In close proximity in the mid-1960s, she and Lansing entertained in their home eminent bishops of the Episcopal Church gathered in Augusta from throughout the country for the annual House of Bishops meeting , as well as members of the performing group Franki Valli and the Four Seasons who were in Augusta at the height of their popularity to play for the Richmond Academy Junior-Senior Dance. In each instance, the group gathered after supper around the grand piano in the Lees' living room and sang into the wee hours, albeit of different musical genres. Mrs. Lee is survived by four children, Melinda Lee Clark of Atlanta, Lansing Burrows Lee III and his wife Carole of Washington DC, Dr. Bothwell Graves Lee of Washington DC, and Richard Hancock Lee and his wife Kathy of Atlanta, as well as seven grandchildren, Shannon Lee Clark, Lansing Burrows Lee IV, Elizabeth Summers Lee, Bothwell Graves Lee, Jr., Thomas Barrett Lee, Lansing Corbitt Lee, and Richard Hancock Lee, Jr. A memorial service in celebration of Natalie Lee's life will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, February 6, 2010, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 605 Reynolds Street in Augusta. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Kanuga Conferences, Inc., P.O. Box 250, Hendersonville, North Carolina 28793. The Poteet Funeral Home, 3465 Peach Orchard Road, Augusta, 706.798.8886

The Augusta Chronicle-February 1, 2010


Search Augusta jobs