Lester Loy Lee, 85, of North Vernon, passed away at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 12, 2019, at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour.
Born November 1, 1933, in Lawrence County, Mr. Lee was the son of the late Robert and Ina (Reed) Lee. He married Brenda (Davis) Lee on July 2, 1980, at the First Church of the Nazarene in North Vernon; she survives.
Mr. Lee was a 1951 graduate of New Castle High School. Following high school, he enrolled in classes for Accounting (public companies) SEC, GAAP, IRS, cash flow, Business Real Estate law, Corporate/Partnership law, Securities & Exchange Commission Law, Business Management, Projections, Feasibility Studies and Business Plans, Engineering /Architectural Designs: Mechanical Engineering and Finance/Banking. He holds a Doctor of Business Management from Indiana Wesleyan University, Honorius Causa. He served in the Indiana National Guard for two years (1952-1954), and three years (1954-1957) in the United States Marines Corps, 12 years for the Board of Trustees of Indiana Wesleyan University, former president of the Rotary Club, and was formerly involved with the Jennings County Chamber of Commerce, 40-year member of the First Church of the Nazarene, Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite, Shriners Club, Indiana Department of Resources (one term), and served as Receiver for a bank. Mr. Lee held licenses for private pilot airplanes (single and multi-engine), helicopters, and hovercrafts. He also had fire and life insurance licenses, a securities license, and a real estate brokers' license from 1963 to date.
Mr. Lee spent 40 years starting and developing over 90 companies, the majority of those being real estate related. He served as Broker, representing both buyers and sellers, obtaining financing for buyers of property, site selection for major hotel brands, retail oil and "C" stores and fast-food restaurants. Mr. Lee began a Midwest motel chain in 1974 as owner and CEO, where he was responsible for the site selection, turnkey construction, franchise and management for 22 hotel properties.
Mr. Lee also purchased a design company in St. Louis, Missouri that employed 20 plus interior designers that were responsible for designing high-end Country Clubs and hotels such as Embassy Suites (approximately 10-15 projects per year) for over 15 years. In addition, he initiated a modular manufacturing company that produced over 12 modular units per day for the Lodging Industry, a business that was maintained for over 20 years and employed more than 175 people.
Mr. Lee also started an international company, CrossWorld, Inc., with offices in 12 countries. CrossWorld was involved in business ventures and trading of commodities, representing governments in Ukraine, Russia, Crimea, Poland and other strategic countries from 1991 thru 1996. Mr. Lee has started, owned and managed several businesses including the development of an Industrial Park, residential subdivisions, commercial sites, i.e., Wal-Mart, construction companies, design of bridges and industrial/ commercial buildings. He was previously a co-owner of an auto dealership (Chrysler, Dodge, GMC and Plymouth), owner and founder of an abstract title company, real estate investment, five ready mix concrete plants, and two sand and gravel plants using dredges, seven retail oil and "C" stores, oil well drilling in Kentucky and Southern Illinois, and two gold mining operations in Yukon, Canada for five years. In addition, fast-food operations were designed, constructed and managed in both Indiana and the Carolinas. Mr. Lee also created a front discharge ready-mix truck manufacturer for US and China (two plants), currently holding 11 patents (issued and pending).
Mr. Lee had a true spirt of entrepreneurship, his extensive real estate background laid a foundation for his ability to manage multiple companies.
Surviving with his wife, Brenda (Davis) Lee of North Vernon, is his son, Larry (Cindy) Lee of North Vernon; daughters, Meegan (Michael) Collier of Del Mar, California, and Melinda (Scott) Gabbard and Debbie (Pat) Brown, both of North Vernon; grandchildren, Jacob Miller, Matthew Brown, Kevin Lee, and Rachel Lee, all of North Vernon, Hillary Brown, Samuel Collier, Sophia Collier, Benjamin Collier, and William Collier, all of California, Erin Lee of San Antonio, Texas, and Travis (Tara) Finney of South Carolina; and two great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, William "Bill" Lee.
A funeral service with military rites for Lester will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, May 17, 2019, at the First Church of the Nazarene in North Vernon with Rev. Caleb Reynolds, Rev. Phil Edwards and Rev. Ralph Lee officiating. Family and friends may call at the church from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 16, 2019, and one hour prior to the service on Friday.
Arrangements were entrusted to the care of Dove-Sharp & Rudicel Funeral Home and Cremation Services in North Vernon.
Memorials may be made through the funeral home to the First Church of the Nazarene in North Vernon or Hospice of Choice.