March 4, 1944 – June 8, 2023
Lester Ray Lee, age 79, of McKenzie, passed away June 8, 2023. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, and friend to many.
He was born March 4, 1944, in McKenzie into a loving, tightknit, family. Raised on a tobacco farm, Lester learned the values of hard work, persistence, ingenuity, and love early on which he carried through his life into his career as a farmer and at Union Camp as a Maintenance Supervisor.
This was written by Mr. Lee himself and describes his life. One bright spring day on March the fourth 1944 Lester Ray Lee was born. Lester was born on a tobacco farm in McKenzie. He grew up hard; his family had very little money. His parents were hard workers. They relied on the land to make a living and to stay alive.
Lester, his parents, his three siblings lived in a small one-bedroom house on the outskirts of McKenzie. This house was small and raggedy but meant so much to them. This house had many purposes, it was the living quarters of the family, and when it came time to gather the tobacco it was also used as storage. As mentioned before they were very poor. They didn’t have enough money to build a barn for it. While the tobacco was stored in the house they lived in one half and stored the tobacco in the other half, leaving a very small space for living quarters. Lester could recall looking over the side of his bed and being able to see the chickens under the house through the cracks in the floors.
The size of the house was small and all four children had to sleep in the same bed. The cracks in the floors and lack of insulation made for very cold winters. Every morning Lester would have to get up early before school to collect eggs and milk the cow. The family relied on the cow and chickens to produce a lot of their food. They had to eat their food right after they had collected it because they didn’t have a refrigerator. They only had a small ice box.
Lester recalls the ice truck would come around every week and you could buy a large block of ice for your cooler for just 15 cents. They also lived off of the animals they shot. The Lee family loved to hunt, they relied on squirrels, turkey, and deer as their main sources of meat.
Lester attended McKenzie High School until tenth grade. He then went to work on his father’s farm full-time. Later, at 19 he married his wife Voncile Lee. After marrying they moved in with her parents. He got a job at a mill in Georgiana. He remembers his first check for a 40 hour week being just 37 dollars. After a few years of working at the mill, he decided to start work at the plywood yard in Chapman, where he spent the rest of his working career as a worker and then later on as a supervisor.
Although he never attended college or got a GED he made a good living for himself. When asked if he had any regrets about his career choices, he said he wouldn’t have done it any other way. His advice for young people today is to stay in school and go to college.
Lester’s greatest milestones are marrying his wife and the birth of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Lester was 79 years old and retired living his best life.
Funeral Services were held at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 11, at Keahey Funeral Home Chapel, 206 Stanley Avenue, Andalusia, AL. The Family received visitors at Keahey from 6-8 p.m. Saturday, June 10, at Keahey Funeral Home Chapel. Reverend Zackery Campbell, Reverend Pete Lee, and Reverend Allen Joyner officiated. Burial followed at Brooks Baptist Church Cemetery, Garden Road, McKenzie, AL. Formal pallbearers were Kyle Nolen, Shane Lee, Hunter Allred, Landan Lee, Kaleb Richard, and Shep Lucas. Honorary Pallbearers were Isaac Lee, Jonathan Nolen, David Campbell, Buck Lee, and Pete Lee.
Lester is survived by his wife, Voncile (Smith) Lee of McKenzie; sons, Pete (Randee) Lee of McKenzie AND Buck (Diane) Lee of McKenzie; daughters, Kathy (David) Campbell of McKenzie and Sheriee Lee of McKenzie; brothers, Eartis (Ann) Lee of McKenzie and Julian Lee of Georgiana; grandchildren, Rachel (Kaleb) Richard, Hannah (Hunter) Allred, Rebekah Lee, Landan Lee, Sydney Lee, Leigh (Shane) Lee, Ashley (Kyle) Nolen, Zack (Lori) Campbell, Abby Langford, and Alesha Langford; and 11 great-grandchildren.
Lester was preceded in death by his parents, Greeley and Edna Lee; sister, Deliah Stanford; sister-in-law, Janie Lee; and great granddaughter, Kennleigh Lee.
Keahey Funeral Home is in charge of these arrangements.