Rensselaer Wright Lee III
December 11, 1937 – December 30, 2018
Foreign policy consultant, author and political scientist Dr. Rensselaer (Rens) Wright Lee III, died on Sunday December 30 at the age of 81.
Born in Evanston, Illinois to Rensselaer Wright Lee and Stella Wentworth Garrett Lee, Rens grew up in New Jersey where his father chaired the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. He graduated from Milton Academy and received a Bachelor’s Degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. He earned a Master’s degree in Public Law and Government at Columbia University and a Doctorate in Political Science and History from Stanford University.
Never the conformer, Rens was a contrarian thinker who was well respected among academics and public policy officials. A Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Rens gave more than a dozen congressional testimonies and performed overseas contract assignments for the State Department, the Department of Energy, the World Bank, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and other agencies.
As an authority on terrorism, international organized crime and nuclear proliferation, Rens traveled extensively throughout Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Cuba, the Caribbean, and much of South America. A talented linguist, he was fluent in Russian, Chinese, Spanish and French. Rensselaer connected with a vast network of fascinating individuals including Soviet nuclear scientists, Colombian drug smugglers and an array of intelligence personnel. His hard work and research influenced US foreign policy at many levels.
Rens was the author of four books and numerous scholarly articles and opinion pieces where he shared insightful perspectives on some of the most pressing and complex issues of our time. Most recently, he wrote about the North Korean nuclear situation.
Despite his busy schedule, he found time to give back. He instilled confidence in and mentored a younger generation of scholars and fellows. In 1965, he volunteered by teaching English in Saigon during the Vietnam War. He remained involved with Princeton University through the Stella and Rensselaer W. Lee fellowship.
In his spare time he reveled in spending summers in Martha’s Vineyard and globetrotting to historic sites. A true gourmet, his appreciation for food and fine wine was legendary among his friends and family. He had a photographic memory for excellent meals he experienced around the world. He was a talented jazz pianist with the ability to hear a piece of music once and play it back by ear.
A memorial service is being held on Sunday, January 27th 2019 at 2:00pm at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 4700 Whitehaven Parkway NW, Washington DC 20007. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions to the R.W. Lee Memorial Fund at Princeton University or the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
- In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions to the R.W. Lee Memorial Fund at Princeton University or the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
- Memorial Service Sunday, January 27, 2019