ForeverMissed
                                                  In Loving Memory of Donald Lee

Donald Lee was born on April 21, 1951 in Oakland, California. He passed away on May 21, 2021 at the age of 70. He is survived by his wife Tetiana Lee, his three children, his daughter Kelita Lee, his son, his daughter Larissa Lee and his grandson Brandon Lee; his siblings Daniel Lee, David Lee, and Victoria Lee as well as many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Don was first generation born in the United States after his parents emigrated from China in 1936. Don was the second born of four siblings to his parents Peter and Betty Lee. Growing up in Oakland as a Chinese-American with traditional values, he learned the benefit of hard work, respect and importance of family. During Don’s high school years he and his two brothers helped their father build their family home. Don had many passions and talents. He was the Captain of the Fremont High School gymnastics team in 1969 and won the California NORCAL Championship in the Pommel Horse. He also spent his free time playing the guitar in a rock band and performed at high school dances.

When Don was a teenager, he and his siblings met every Saturday with Lorraine Dennis to study the bible. At the age of 18 Don was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He later moved to Manhattan, Kansas where he served in the full-time ministry with his best friend and roommate, Paul Morrill. While in Kansas he married his first wife, Ruth Godfrey in 1973 and they had their first two children, Kelita and his son. Don was an entrepreneur at heart and he started his first business, Lee Janitorial, which he grew to ten employees.

In June 1979 Don and his family moved back to Oakland, California to be near his parents. One year later in 1980 he started his successful construction company, Lee Construction. Lee Construction flourished and is still in operation today. Don was always generous of his time and shared his skills with many. He taught Sarah Young, Wei Min and Wei Cheng his trade.

In 1982 they had their third child, Larissa. Don was a very attentive father to his children. He loved to play games with them when they were kids and loved the sound of laughter in his home. Don always had a love for nature and the outdoors. He spent many summers taking his family camping. His children have wonderful memories visiting Mt. Lassen, Yosemite, Yellowstone and many camping sites along California’s coastline and National Parks. On these many adventures Don always took the opportunity to teach his children facts about nature, history and specifics of every place they visited. He was truly a kid at heart and took his family to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm more times than they can count. It made Don very happy that he was able to keep this tradition alive with his grandson, Brandon. The birth of his only grandson in 1996 brought another chance for Don to be a kid all over again. His children and grandson will always cherish feeling loved and accepted by their father and grandfather. They knew that he was proud of them and that he loved each one of them dearly.

Along with his passion for camping, Don had a desire to see the world and the many wonders it had to offer. On many occasions Don would cut out newspapers and magazine articles of places he dreamed of visiting. Don’s dream of traveling abroad became a reality later in life. It was after retirement that he was able to begin his new adventures across the globe. On one of his travels he met his second wife, Tetiana. In 2015, after their marriage took place, Don began his life of two homes, one in the United States and one in the Ukraine. Don was able to live out his dreams of traveling and exploration with his beloved wife and best friend, Tetiana and his children. One of Don’s favorite places to visit with Tetiana was Egypt where he got to enjoy the exotic oasis and landscape. He loved visiting Turkey where he got to experience new foods, culture and people. Don was able to share his love of the National Parks in America with Tetiana and build new memories of these wonderful places together. Don was also able to live out his dream of visiting Paris with his wife and children.

Don will be greatly missed by his wife, children, family, and friends who loved and deeply appreciated his warm, generous, and light hearted nature. Their cherished memories will forever be embedded in their hearts.
Posted by Kaitlynne Fuery on June 18, 2021
Uncle Don shared his love for national parks and, at the time, Avril Lavigne when he took me, Michael, and my mom to Bass Lake, Mariposa Groves, and Hearst Castle one summer. That trip he organized helped fuel my love for architecture and instilled the importance to always incorporate fruit in your meals.

It was hard to really know Uncle Don, but through the countless times he opened his home to me and all of us cousins, giving us a space to celebrate good times and family, I understood that he cared about his family and loved to see them happy.

I'm saddened that he suffered in his passing and my heart goes out to the family in this loss.
Posted by Victoria Lee on June 16, 2021
I was the only girl and the youngest, so like a big brother, one morning he took me outside to the back porch and sternly said to me, “ You are so spoiled.” As though I didn’t hear it the first time he again said, “You are so spoiled.” I will never forget what he said to me. It still rings in my mind. I hope I’m no longer “spoiled.”

When I started to attend a church he told me you should go to the Kingdom Hall and wear your longest dress. So I listened and went to the Kingdom Hall. He was always there to pick me up for the meetings, assemblies, and conventions. He always had James Taylor playing in his car, an older Volvo he called Betsy. He was always there to take me, which encouraged me to make the truth my own.

Donald was a kind person and did so many things for me as a big brother. I look forward to welcoming him back to life during the resurrection!
Posted by Gabriel Godfrey on June 14, 2021
I remember as a teenager being at Dons house one time I picked up an acoustic guitar lying around. Not knowing how to play Don heard me making noise and taught me how to play my first song. I was hooked and fell in love with the guitar ever since!
Posted by Douglas Scott on June 10, 2021
One time when we lived on Custer Street in Oakland, we used to like to play guitars with each other. I only had my Gretch guitar, an old, left handed, hand me down instrument. Don went and bought me a nice condition Yamaha guitar, which I appreciated so much. Doug Scott
Posted by Kelita Lee on June 10, 2021
Posted by Sarah Young

When I was much younger, I use to visit Don and my sister Ruth in Kansas. I would wake up early in the morning to the sound of Don playing his acoustic guitar in his office. So, I would crawl out of bed and hide out of site in the hallway so I could hear him play and sing better. It was so comforting and soothing! I loved it! He taught me to play later and bought me my first guitar. He was a great teacher and very patient. I still have that guitar today! 

At congregation gatherings it was so much fun watching and listening to him and Paul play and sing, especially Dueling Banjos! They were SO awesome!

It was Don who paid for me to go with the family to Disneyland the first time. He loved sharing all the cool things with others that he liked to do. Always so generous! I was so happy and appreciative that he was so willing to share with me!

It was Don who taught me how to set tile, who taught me how to be efficient and organized in the trade. It was Don who set me up with my own tiling company and it was Don whom I gave the credit to for his patience and teaching skills on my website, sarahyoungtiling.com. SQUARE/PLUMB/LEVEL!!!  (Inside joke).

I will forever be grateful to have had him in my life. I will forever be grateful to have his children in my life and I look forward to seeing him again in God’s Paradise soon to come. I believe with my whole heart that my God, Jehovah, will remember him for all his goodness. That Jehovah will call out his name, “Donald”! and Don will rise up and give hugs, with tears of joy, to all those who are waiting for him. I plan on being one of them!!! 

Can hardly wait to see you again!
Sarah
Posted by Delia Honniball on June 7, 2021
Don was a man who loved sharing
his love of adventure with his children, his family, and his friends.
Don would plan summer trips that would often include myself, and my two daughters. He thought of us, and treated us, just like family.
Some of my favorite memories with
Don and his family were those summer trips. I especially remember one time in
Arizona , when his plans included an off road adventure on four wheelers. That was quite the experience! I will always be thankful for all the wonderful adventures that he shared so generously with my family.
Posted by Jenny Paler on June 6, 2021
Although we ( Markham and I ) didn’t get to know Don and his family until the kids were all in their teens, I remember how surprised Don was to see what we allowed our crazy kids and their friends to do at our house. Most of the time it was boys at our house, the gathering place, and sometimes a few girls were invited to participate.  Nerf wars were a favorite at our house, inside and outside. We had a two story home with an open loft area, perfect for nerf wars.  Don watched in amazement as the boys played their games.
Circumstances didn’t allow our families to be as close as I wanted, but I cherish the times we spent with the kids and those memories will forever be etched in our hearts.  The Paler Family………..
Posted by Adina GH on June 6, 2021
I remember when I was little and he had the coolest car of any grown-up I knew. He always seemed to have such an adventurous life.

I will be forever grateful to have been a part of his extended family, and thankful for so many opportunities to tag along on day trips and family vacations, and to celebrate happy occasions together.

I'll never forget his sense of wonder at the world around us, or his cheerful disposition. I can still hear him chuckling and talking in his goofy voices. He will be remembered fondly!
Posted by Brian Pepperell on June 6, 2021
Don had an infectious laugh. You knew it was him just by his laugh. When I was a young man trying to find my way, Don helped me out by giving me a job with his construction company. He taught me some of his trade and was very patient in teaching me. He helped me develop my work ethic and helped me get a start on my pathway into adulthood. He will be missed.
Posted by Aileen Cancino on June 6, 2021
It is challenging and so surreal to grasp the notion - that you have transcended this plane of existence, Mr. Lee. 

Your unforgettable laughter, your smile, your love for adventure and life ... will always be remembered, as well as your kindness.

Thank you - for being like family to me and my family and for being a friend who always made time to help others ... and always made time to just to be fully present . 

Thank you for always being authentically you, Mr. Don Lee - I will miss your emails, our in-person conversations and I will miss not seeing you anymore.

You will always live on in our memories and hearts and never be forgotten.

And if such a thing as an after life truly exists. as believed by some .... then I look forward to seeing you again and cracking jokes together once more.

Until then - Rest in power Mr. Lee.

You are loved and appreciated; and will never be forgotten.

Your Friend Always,

- Aileen
Posted by Janice Zulaica on June 4, 2021
Don was like family to me, and he treated me like family, from having me at dinner gatherings with his family, to doing work on my trailer for me, to my laughing along with him at some crazy incident that had happened. I’ve seen him always being there for his children when as adults they’ve needed help with different things. And he had a commendable history as a young man who exerted himself, even going far from home, to serve Jehovah. I can only say that I know that Jehovah will not forget what a person has done to serve him.
Posted by Robert Stanfield on June 4, 2021
One of the most enjoyable times of my life was
when I traveled with Don, his son and my son
as we went camping,fishing and hiking
throughout California in the late 1980s and
early 1990s.    Also I will miss his laugh
Bob Stanfield
Posted by Kelita Lee on June 3, 2021
Dad as a young man you taught me determination, hard work and that family matters above all else. I thank you for that. I learned appreciation from a dad that provided for us. You labored all day at work and would still come home and help me with my homework. You made special trips to the Food Mill to ensure our school lunches were healthy and delicious. You taught me the importance of education! Every trip was filled with facts, history and adventure.

We had so many good times, memories, love that no one can take from me. I survived many things in life with the determination I learned from you. I understand that now that I'm grown with my own son. Thank you for teaching me to do things myself. Whether it was fixing broken items in our house or helping me learn to use your tools on the job, you always believed I could do it.

When Brandon was born you loved him as if he was your own son. You always wanted to spend time with him. You took him on many trips like Disneyland, Yellowstone and you even went on his school field trips. Seeing you as a grandfather reminded me of all the wonderful things you did with me as I grew up. Thank you for being Brandon's Grampy!

Through the years you went through many trying times. You always had a silly fun side that helped you pull through anything! You amazed me! So many things you taught me, but the greatest thing was that I knew I was truly loved by you!

Thank you Daddy for being there, always and forever!
Posted by Krista Honniball on June 3, 2021
I miss his monthly emails encouraging us "girls" to conserve water. I loved all his stories about his trips, Tanya's garden, their cat, Marsha, and the weather in Ukraine. I miss his silly voices, his sense of humor and his generosity. He took us along on family trips to places like the Grand Canyon that I would never have seen otherwise. He helped with trips to and from college, too. I will always be grateful he was part of my family.
Posted by Larissa lee on June 3, 2021
I will miss you reminding me to turn off the lights when I leave a room. I will miss the way you covered your mouth when you laughed. I will miss your light hearted and silly nature. I will miss being able to ask you for advice. I will miss your picture taking. I will miss our day and weekend trips. I will miss our adventures traveling around the world together. I will miss being able to pick up the phone to call you. I will miss you sharing things through email that you thought were really cool and interesting. I will miss you always taking the opportunity to educate me on something new. There are uncountable things that I will miss. I will miss you!! There is no other Dad I would of rather had than you. I will remember your teachings. I will remember your hugs. I will remember your acceptance. I will remember your love! I will carry you in my heart every second of every minute of everyday. I love you Dad!
Posted by Kelita Lee on June 2, 2021
                   A Poem for My Dad

He never looks for praises

He’s never one to boast

He just goes on quietly working

For those he loves the most

His wants are very few

And most of the time his worries

Will go unspoken too

He’s there… A firm foundation

Through all the storms of life

A sturdy hand to hold

In times of stress and strife

A true friend we can turn to

When times are good or bad

One of our greatest blessings

The man that we call dad

“Dad,” By Karen K. Boyer

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Kaitlynne Fuery on June 18, 2021
Uncle Don shared his love for national parks and, at the time, Avril Lavigne when he took me, Michael, and my mom to Bass Lake, Mariposa Groves, and Hearst Castle one summer. That trip he organized helped fuel my love for architecture and instilled the importance to always incorporate fruit in your meals.

It was hard to really know Uncle Don, but through the countless times he opened his home to me and all of us cousins, giving us a space to celebrate good times and family, I understood that he cared about his family and loved to see them happy.

I'm saddened that he suffered in his passing and my heart goes out to the family in this loss.
Posted by Victoria Lee on June 16, 2021
I was the only girl and the youngest, so like a big brother, one morning he took me outside to the back porch and sternly said to me, “ You are so spoiled.” As though I didn’t hear it the first time he again said, “You are so spoiled.” I will never forget what he said to me. It still rings in my mind. I hope I’m no longer “spoiled.”

When I started to attend a church he told me you should go to the Kingdom Hall and wear your longest dress. So I listened and went to the Kingdom Hall. He was always there to pick me up for the meetings, assemblies, and conventions. He always had James Taylor playing in his car, an older Volvo he called Betsy. He was always there to take me, which encouraged me to make the truth my own.

Donald was a kind person and did so many things for me as a big brother. I look forward to welcoming him back to life during the resurrection!
Posted by Gabriel Godfrey on June 14, 2021
I remember as a teenager being at Dons house one time I picked up an acoustic guitar lying around. Not knowing how to play Don heard me making noise and taught me how to play my first song. I was hooked and fell in love with the guitar ever since!
Recent stories

Fond Memories

Shared by David Lee on June 18, 2021
I have many fond memories of our childhood activities shared with Daniel, Donald, Vicky and our parents. 

Mom made a lot of clothes for us while we were young.  Often, all 3 boys had the same outfits.  I thought we were cool in our “rock and roll” jackets.

I especially remembered how neat it was when Mom made a Halloween costume, just for Donald!

And I really enjoyed watching Donald rehearse with the band.  It was “so cool” to have a brother in a rock band.

Donald has left us way too soon.  He will always be in our thoughts and forever be in our hearts.

Vignettes about Donald and I

Shared by Daniel Lee on June 6, 2021
Vignettes about Donald and I.  These where during the teen years of our lives.  Weight Lifting with a Purpose, A Morning Fishing, Music, and Our First Car.

Weight Lifting with a Purpose.

When I was 14yrs old I started to lift weights to get stronger.  At first I was the only one weight lifting.  Later Donald started lifting weights with me.  I showed him the correct form for lifting weights so he would not get injured. It was fun for the both of us together to be lifting weights.  I got to the point where I could clean and press 10lbs more than my body weight, but Donald was able to clean and press 30 lbs more than his body weight.  I could see that Donald was getting stronger and more muscular.  

He was lifting weights to help him to be a gymnast in high school.  During the 1967 school year, Donald wrote on a friend’s gymnastics team photo that he was going to be a future gymnast of Fremont High.  Two years later Donald was captain of the Fremont High gymnastics team.  I watched Donald at the Oakland Athletic League gymnastics meet win in the pommel horse and he would go on to win the pommel horse at the NorCal meet later that year.


A Morning Fishing

It was a summer day in the mid 1960s when dad took Donald and I fishing early one Saturday morning, just the three of us. We arrived just before sunrise at the Berkeley rock wall.  Dad left us to fish on our own while he went fishing.  I told Donald, “Let's fish on the inside rock wall since its calmer water (no waves pounding the rocks).”  It was low tide and I told Donald that stripers come close to shore on incoming tide searching for food.  I said, “Live small shiner perch were the perfect bait for this tide condition,” and Donald agreed with me.  

I was hoping my strategy would work. We caught several small shiners with one fishing rod; for some reason that day Donald and I had to share one rod.  We hooked one shiner with no sinker.  Donald and I carefully watched the fishing line,  suddenly the shiner started to move around quickly.  Then the line ran away from shore and I open the bale and had Donald hold the rod with the fishing line running out rapidly.   Donald and I debated when should we close bale.  I said to wait a little longer, then Donald closed bale and made a great hook set.  The rod bent over and we could only hear the fish jump out of the water.  We could not see the fish jump due to the rising morning sun, yet Donald skillfully brought in the 6 lb striper.  We did the same again hooking another shiner and waiting for the bite.  Another big striper took the live bait.  This time I held the rod and caught a nice size striper.  Dad had heard from other fisherman that two young guys had caught 2 nice size bass; it was us! Donald and I were proud and happy that we each caught a nice size striper and were excited to show dad.  We could see dad was happy when he saw the nice size stripers.  When Donald and I came home, dad told mom that her two boys caught the fish and we told mom our fish tale.  Dad, mom, Donald, and I were happy; a vivid memory and a feeling I cherish. 


Music

Everyone in the family new Donald was musically inclined.  One day dad said that a coworker was coming over to the house to sell musical instruments.  He came in the evening with two used guitars, an acoustic and a Fender electric guitar.  Our dad was negotiating price for the guitars.  Dad said the asking price was too high for used guitars.  Donald did not complain, we all knew mom and dad both had jobs to make ends meet.  A few days later dad came home with the guitars.  Dad said he brought the guitars when the price was right!  Donald was happy, he had guitars to play music.  Donald mostly played acoustic guitar around the house.  Later he began playing the Fender guitar.  Two of Donald’s friends were also interested in playing music.  Steve, Duane, and Donald formed a band.  They played rock music.  David, my younger brother, and I remember listening to them play in Steve’s mom garage around the corner.  I remember them playing “Light My Fire by the Doors”.  The band started performing at local dance concerts.  They got paid for playing many dance concerts at the Mormon Temple.  Steve, Duane, and Donald played “Turn, Turn, Turn by the Byrds” at his high school graduation.


Our First Car

I was in junior college and Donald had graduated high school when both of us wanted to have a car to drive.  Each of us had saved enough money to buy a used car, but we needed to get auto insurance.  Donald and I knew that dad needed to purchase the insurance for us; we negotiated with dad that we would share a car, two for one, if he would help pay for the auto insurance and dad agreed to pay.  Both Donald and I went looking for a used car and found a used 1967 Chevelle Malibu.  We split the cost and had a car.  It was a cool car that Donald and I drove on different days.  We both had a great time driving that car.

  I will miss my younger brother.  Throughout his life he was a kind and a sharing person.