OBITUARY

William LeRoy Lee

January 31, 1937March 24, 2019
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William LeRoy Lee, age 82 passed away on Sunday, March 24, 2019. William was born on January 31, 1937 in Dayton, Ohio.

Bill will be remembered for his exceptionally beautiful voice. He sang in and toured with a boys choir in his youth. He loved music, especially classical and jazz. He was known to enjoy Opera and Ballet. The piano and organ were his instruments, although he evolved to mostly organ, having played for several churches as a young man for both services and events.

Bill married his high school sweetheart Gayle Armstrong. As a college student he was on a co-op program in Metallurgical Engineering. Bill received a Master's degree in Metallurgical Engineering and did most of the work on an M.B.A. His co-op schedule included six weeks of school in Cincinnati then six weeks at home with Gayle. During school times he would return to Gayle in Dayton, Ohio (his birthplace) on Fridays and return to school early Monday with Gayle's care package of homemade cookies. Those cookies were a big hit with friends and roommates. Bill and Gayle were together until her death about 25 years ago. The two have a daughter, Laura.

Bill entered the ROTC. He wanted to be a pilot but had to settle for navigator as there was a surplus of pilots. He never served in the military however, as his employer filed a critical skills deferment for him. He was doing engineering work for Defense Department contracts. Over the years, Bill took private flying lessons and was at the point of doing solos. He also did space program work, traveling to Florida for launches and working to help rescue the ill-fated Apollo 13. Bill worked a variety of engineering jobs with several companies. He worked in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and State College, Pennsylvania. He worked himself up to management and retired as Division General Manager of an electronics firm outside of San Francisco, California.

Bill and his first wife Gayle became cat breeders. They acquired a Persian cat Gayle wanted, showed it, and became hooked on the cat fancy. Bill and Gayle had the top Persian cattery in the world for about 8 years and bred some 80 Persian Grand Champions. Two of their cats became the Best Cat in the World. Bill also bred Manx, Maine Coons, Siamese, Havana Browns, and Russian Blue Chartreux over time.

Bill was an exhibitors and spectators most favored cat judge for over 40 years. The hundreds of people over the globe responding to his passing cite his love for the cats, his fairness, excellent handling (especially scared kittens), his sense of humor, and his great presentation skills.

Bill met his second wife Susan while judging cat shows. Bill was in California and Susan was in Michigan. They fell in love by exchanging emails, having a private chat in AOL chat rooms every night, and many long hours on the phone. They met in Denver in October of 1997 and got engaged - it was a month before their first date (ask Susan about that one!). They planned a fairy tale wedding the following May.

Wife Susan became a cat show judge too. The two travelled extensively throughout the United States and Canada judging shows. They also did so in Europe, Holland, The United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Japan, Central & South America including Argentina, Columbia, Costa Rica and Mexico. They added personal travel including a beloved African Safari in Kenya and Tanzania, two weeks in Australia and New Zeeland as well as cruises through the Baltic Sea, the Caribbean and Panama. Every winter they spent two weeks at a favorite resort near Cancun or Cozumel. Every other year they spent 2 to 3 weeks at their time share in Hawaii.

Bill enjoyed fishing and working outdoors. In a couple of his homes he managed large vegetable gardens. Up until his stroke at the age of 79, he did all of his own outside yard work and snow shoveling.

Bill is survived by his wife Susan, their collie Dolly, and three Maine Coon cats.

Please join the family for visitation on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes (900 East Michigan Ave., Lansing, Michigan). Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 11:00 AM with additional visitation one hour prior. Interment at Glendale Cemetery in Okemos.

Please consider a memorial contribution in memory of William LeRoy Lee to the Michigan State University Advancement, Feline Health and Well Being (A60731), 535 Chestnut Road, Room 300, East Lansing, MI 48824.

  • DONATIONS

  • Michigan State University Advancement, Feline Health and Well Being (A60731)

Services

  • Visitation Wednesday, March 27, 2019
  • Visitation Thursday, March 28, 2019
  • Funeral Service Thursday, March 28, 2019

Memories

William LeRoy Lee

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Linda Jewell

April 21, 2019

He always had a smile, a corny joke and something nice to say. He loved judging, and loved the cats. I will miss that big laugh and big heart.

Karen Fallon

March 28, 2019

I always enjoyed Bill's judging and mannerisms. He was a friendly, warm, and loving man. My condolences to all those that loved this man!

Monica Zehnder

March 28, 2019

Bill was such a kind and gentle man and so skilled in his judging. Please accept our sincere condolences on the loss of such a wonderful man. Monica and Marv Zehnder, Zehnder Abyssinians

Susan Creighton

March 28, 2019

I always loved seeing Bill at the cat shows. He really knew the Persian breed. I will so miss him at the TICA shows. Thinking of Susan and his family. May you find peace.

Daniel Bramble

March 28, 2019

Just wanted to say thank you for the time we had. You are an amazing person and I appreciate the time I had to get to know you. May God bless you and susan.

Marty Young

March 27, 2019

I first met Bill after he had left CFA and was training to become a TICA judge. I heard this booming laugh and looked up. I was carrying a red Abyssinian kitten and his eyes just lit up. We bonded almost instantly. He certainly loved a hot red Aby. He and Susan frequently judged shows I was involved with and they were an absolute delight. Bill was my biggest cheerleader in my early breeding days and I will always remember the rock solid advice he would give me when I asked his opinion.

He always had a twinkle in his eye and his sense of humor was legendary. He was fabulous with the cats, and I saw more than one scared kitten (or cat!) just bloom as he handled them with patience and compassion. Most of all he was fair - he judged the cat, not the owner.

Rest in peace, my friend. I know all your departed feline loves met you with joy at the Rainbow Bridge.

Steve & Carol Lawson

March 27, 2019

Bill's kind face will remain with us always.
Please accept our heartfelt condolences.
It was an honor to have known such a great person and enjoyed some great moments with him....

Marjorie Berger

March 27, 2019

Me and my husband Phil met Bill at our very first TICA show, and a friendship began with Bill and Susan. We were fortunate to remain good friends with Bill and Susan over the years, enjoying many extraordinary meals and fantastic restaurants from MINNESOTA to FLORIDA.

Bill and Susan were our mentors and cheer leaders. When we decided to retire our silver and white Maine Coon Jack , from showing, we knew that Bill and Susan were the perfect choice. They had a mutual love affair.

Rest In Peace Bill, you will be missed. I know that Jack is waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge.

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