Fred Lee

July 23, 1930January 15, 2016

Fred Lee, MD passed away on January 15, 2016 at the age of 85. He was an extraordinary man, full of love, life, and energy who was beloved by his family, friends, colleagues and patients. Fred was born on July 23, 1930 in Buffalo, New York to parents Wallace and Mary Lee, both immigrants from China. As one of seven children, Fred and his siblings worked in the family laundry. Fred attended the University of Buffalo School of Medicine, graduating in 1956 as the class valedictorian. During medical school, Fred met the love of his life, Ethel. After dating for several years, the couple eloped to Maryland where they were confronted with the reality of anti-miscegenation laws designed to prevent mixed race marriages.

After graduating from medical school, Fred took a surgery internship at the University of Chicago, followed by a radiology residency at Harvard University at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. Fred and Ethel’s two oldest children (Alexa and Suzanne) were born in Boston. After residency, Fred was drafted into the US Army, and posted to the US Army hospital on Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands from 1960-1962. It was during their time on Okinawa that their third child (Fred Jr.) was born. Upon leaving the military, Fred went on to an academic position at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. Their fourth child (Amy) was born in Rochester. Fred was a Rochester faculty member for two years, and left in 1964 to join the medical staff at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI where he practiced for 25 years. Their final child (Andrew) was born in Ann Arbor.

Fred’s professional expertise was in the imaging modality of ultrasound. During a trial of a new ultrasound machine in 1985, Fred diagnosed his own prostate cancer. He responded by becoming deeply enmeshed in prostate cancer research, and soon became one of the world’s pioneers in the diagnosis, staging and treatment of this disease. In 1990, Fred joined Crittenton Hospital in Rochester, MI, where he practiced until March, 2015. He won innumerable awards for his work in prostate cancer, was named a Michigan Man of the Year in 1986, and in 1987, he was featured in a PBS special with Elizabeth-Kubler Ross entitled, “The Windstorms of Life”. Despite all his accomplishment, Fred was a humble man. He had a simple request for how he would like to be remembered: “Just tell them I was a good man”.

Although a scientist by training, Fred was a lifelong spiritual seeker and student of human nature. He read, studied and practiced from multiple sources including Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. Perhaps his foremost teacher, however, was William Shakespeare, whom Fred admired for his ability to eloquently decipher human foibles. Fred memorized and recited sonnets, and for 30 consecutive years Fred and Ethel enjoyed trips to Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Fred was also a member of a decades long play reading group.

Anyone who knew Fred also knew him as a tireless athlete. He had a passion for swimming, tennis, running, biking and weight lifting. In recent years he became a fixture at the Ann Arbor YMCA, working out for several hours every day. He had many great friends at the Y who will miss seeing his smiling face and early morning locker room chats.

Fred Lee is survived by Ethel, his wife of 60 years, his brothers and sisters: Rose Wong, Frank Lee, Elsie Wong, Luther Lee, Howard Lee, Lawrence Lee, his children: Alexa Lee (Matthew DeGenaro, Ann Arbor, MI), Suzanne Lee (Peter Pryde, Madison, WI), Fred Lee Jr. (Marjorie DiMaggio, Madison, WI), Amy Lee (Stathi Mexas, Berkeley, CA), and Andrew Lee (New York, NY), and his beloved grandchildren: Jacob Pryde, Emma Pryde, Andrew Pryde, Mary Bridget Lee, Nicholas Lee, and Audrey Lee, his brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, many nieces and nephews, and dear friends from all over the world. The Lee family would like to thank the many physicians, nurses, and other caretakers who helped care for Fred during his final months of life. In lieu of flowers, the Lee family requests any donations to be directed to the Ozone House which supports youth at risk. (

A memorial service will be held at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor (4001 Ann Arbor Saline Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103) on Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 3pm.


Fred Lee

have a memory or condolence to add?

Chauncey Wood

September 16, 2016

I was treated by Dr. Lee for prostate cancer from 2001 to 2006. He was kind, gentle, precise in both his speech and his technical skills. He was a wonderful doctor and a fine person. I shall miss him both professionally and personally.

Cheryl Higdon

September 8, 2016

Dr. Lee literally saved my husbands life. We went to him, as many others, looking for help. He was a very kind, soft spoken gentleman. I feel very honored to have met him.

Kirk Davis

March 18, 2016

I will always remember Dr. Lee for his talent, kindness, humility and devotion to family, patients and friends.

Jean Ash

March 9, 2016

My sincerest condolences to the Lee family.
I had the distinct privilege of working with Dr. Lee for a long time and always felt my days spent in the ultrasound lab were a constant challenging learning experience. He was a born teacher.....a humble man and taught me so much..You will be missed.

Steve Schmitter

March 2, 2016

Dr. Lee was a very kind and generous man. Although he was extremely busy, he found the time and energy to mentor me, a clueless undergraduate student, as well as many other students, visiting doctors and other co-workers. I, and countless others, have benefited greatly by having Dr. Lee in our lives. This especially applies to his patients. My deepest condolences to the Lee family.

John Newby

February 22, 2016

My sincerest condolences to the entire Lee Family. Fred was that type of man that embraced life for all it was worth and that each moment was just simply precious. He was a giant among men and a gentle passionate man for those most dear to him. Every conversation I had with Fred was a lesson as I think back now, even if it was only to say very few words. Fred you will always be in my heart.

Bob Each

February 18, 2016

Great guy and a great Doctor. A real pioneer who helped thousands of men.

Dr George Gray

February 16, 2016

Many Thanks for caring and your skill

John Thornbury

February 15, 2016

Our condolences and prayers go out to your family. Dr. Lee Sr. is fondly remembered by my parents, Drs. Jack and Julia Thornbury, as a colleague and friend.

Patti Evans Albright

February 15, 2016

We are extremely grateful for the work of Dr. Lee. Although not a patient, my spouse benefitted from Color Doppler technology which was used to plan his radiation treatments, and continues to benefit from it every year during his annual checkup. Physicians like Dr. Lee who care greatly and give selflessly are few and far between. May he rest in peace.