His Life

Memorial Tribute from Vania Smirnov

I met him in late high school through a mutual friend, and within a few short weeks we started talking online almost every day. As the years went on our friendship blossomed to the point where we had a continuous chat open every day, constantly sending each other information, inspiration, and advice.  

There are few friends in my life that have had a bigger impact on my life. Gregory showed me how to appreciate the finer things in life, and throughout our friendship we exchanged tens of thousands of messages, thousands of links and hundreds of presents. We shared ideas, and through this mutual exchange we both grew.

He gave me hope- showing me that in this hectic world full of distractions it's possible to be a true renaissance man, a well rounded human. This is truly a testament to how Beth and Doug raised him - a man of many interests, always willing to share his time, knowledge, and possessions

I have so many fond memories with him I can't even begin to attempt to summarize them. I remember staying up together till 4am, talking about the latest gadget releases. I remember laying on the sunny grass, listening to the music coursing through the air. I remember beautiful brunches where we discussed politics, the singularity, biology, and music codec efficiencies. 

I told this him many times, and now I want to share with you - in him, i truly saw a soul mate. he understood me to the depths of my core - understanding my thoughts before I would even finish voicing them. This loss cuts so deeply.

While I'm sure he regrets having just one mistake cut his life short, apart from that I truly believe he lived without many regrets. To me, that is a life well lived, and something to aspire to do as well.

There are those people who imbue you with energy and leave you buzzing on the way home. Gregory was one of those. He was a wonderful brother, a loving son and a caring friend. He will be missed, but he lives on in all of us. 

May he rest in peace.

From Beth, Doug, and Alison (read By Jeffery Lee)

Doug, Beth and Alison would like to thank everyone for their outpouring of love and support in the last two weeks.  It means so much to us in this very difficult time. 

We especially are thankful for the people who have worked diligently and tirelessly to help us remember Gregory by individually calling over 200 people, planning meals, setting up the communications, planning meals, infrastructure, planning meals, and media. 

To interrupt their busy lives to work in emergency mode for us, and Gregory, will never be forgotten.

Also, to all the wonderful people who have brought food for us, thank you thank you thank you.

Did we say we are enjoying the food? We are.

{from Beth}

People keep asking us how they can help. As I began to write some words, I realized the most precious thing you can do is to keep Gregory’s memory alive.

 When we cracked the security on all of Gregory’s devices, our house started dinging and ringing and beeping as though he was still there. It was/is oddly comforting. But here are a few ideas that are more approachable for all of you here today:

 When you read a book and then another and another, you’ll be keeping Gregory’s memory alive.

When you don’t judge a book by its cover -- when you don’t judge at all -- you’ll be keeping Gregory’s memory alive.

When you binge-watch the latest Sherlock episodes or re-watch all 8 seasons of House or listen with voracious interest to each episode of “This American Life”, you’ll be keeping Gregory’s memory alive.

When you talk to a stranger with the same interest you would a friend, when you travel with curiosity and joy, when you embrace technology for its ability to improve the world, when you don’t put off until tomorrow that which you want to do today, you’ll be keeping Gregory’s memory alive.

Gregory could work a crowd like an experienced marketing professional far beyond his years. At a recent food show he attended with me he easily moved from discussing pairings of artisanal-maple-syrup (yes that is now a thing) to filming an ancient Japanese matcha technique to explaining the technical details of his new gimbal filming device.

After show hours, he worked the room at a crowded Italian party to easily find me new potential clients for my food marketing business. He was like a force of nature with a brain like Mary Poppins’ travel. bag. -- reach in and there was always more to discover.

Gregory was the best travel companion and always lived like there was no tomorrow.

In 2012 we visited Paris and the South of France on a whim, tagging along on a business trip. One afternoon, I wanted to meet a former work colleague and friend but Doug and Ali were too tired. Gregory agreed to accompany me without any hesitation.

We navigated Le Metro with ease and met them near the Louvre at the Jardin Tuileries for a short afternoon outing. Our friends arrived with expected French snacks for a picnic. My friend recalls the visit this way: “I remember Gregory’s passion and excitement for technology and our animated conversations interspersed with fromage, tablets, jambon & Google.”

Along with having a very active left and right brain and superpower tech skills, Gregory’s enhanced sense of taste and smell made him the perfect partner for my food blog and business. He confidently and unabashedly critiqued my flavor combinations, edited my prose, and often stood by my side to help me find the right composition through the camera’s viewfinder.

His innate ability to see the world beautifully was not restricted to his treatment of people but was also evident in his visual compositions in both still and moving pictures. And yet somehow, that wasn’t all. In his freshman year of college his favorite and most successful class was Creative Writing.

With so much talent, so much zest for life, so much potential, I imagine this quote from EB White might accurately reflect the unique dichotomy that was Gregory’s life each day:

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.

{From Doug}

Don’t buy Applecare!

Gregory would always say that.

In my experience, all extended warranties seem to be just a 10 to 20 percent tax on purchases that are already too expensive. For everything else, who cares?

But, surprisingly, Gregory was always able to find a “manufacturing defect” years after a product’s warranty has long expired and by some innate ability-to-negotiate, would end up with a brand new latest model whatever it was.

He always got the newbetterbest thing. This wasn’t a one-time thing. 

He always managed to do that.

When Gregory was very small, I told him that his job is to take care of his mother and his sister.

To him, that meant, if someone was handing out brochures or flyers or whatever giveaway, he would get one, but go back again and again to get one for mom and then for his sister.

“Where did he go”, we would ask… and moments later, with his characteristic smile, he would be holding up two more, whatever it was for mom and sister.

He was the go-to guy if we needed to secure movie seats, or general admission seats, or a place up front for a better view for his sister.  He could cut through a crowd like butter.

Speaking of crowds, Gregory had the gift of gab. He had an innate ability to work a crowd, grabbing the center of attention whether you liked it or not. He was the ultimate competitive talker and could seize the floor and filibuster until you were interested in what he had to say.  You would acquiesce; resistance is futile, ..he had a lot to say.

I wasn’t surprised that so many different people considered Gregory, their “best friend”.  He made people of all ages feel special. They were special to him.

His mailbox was always inundated with help requests from friends and family (and random strangers) for computer, apps, or general I-T issues, or even dear - Abby” type personal problems.  He said once that although he was “good” at computer stuff that didn’t mean he wanted to do that.


Nevertheless, his problem solving skills and approach to attacking a conundrum made him a very impressive and efficient “solutions guy”.

Gregory was also very interested in the latest “whatever”, and couldn’t wait to tell you or convince you why you, or he, had-to-have-it. Whether it was the new Virtual Reality Oculus, or why we needed MOCA (Ethernet over Cable), or how to improve our DVR.

He would wear you out about that newest thing.  He was working on us all. the. time. and mostly what he said made sense (although we hated it).   He was always right. We needed those things.

He even convinced his 85+ year old Grandparents that they needed a smart phone.  This was Smartphone 2.0.  They now call us on their home phone about how to use their “smart phone”.  Ironic.

His latest thing was his drone obsession.  He of course bought the most sophisticated, almost warfare ready, spy drone and started making short films immediately.  His maiden journey took the drone out over Santa Monica beach straight over the water.  No fear.  Never mind, that the thing could have disappeared into the Pacific.

His Swan Song drone movie was quite beautiful.

I can only imagine the movies he could have made.

I can only imagine what Gregory could have accomplished.

Maybe we should have bought the Applecare (for Gregory).

Rest in Peace Gregory Thomas Lee
We love you and miss you. 

Memorial Tribute from Ben Baranovsky

From the time I was 8 days old, Gregory was my closest friend. Between then and now, we spent countless hours together in his room messing with technology, running around as campers at Walden West, and eating good food. If I had any problem or wanted advice on anything, I would immediately turn to him.

Gregory helped fuel my passion for technology in a big way. We pinged each other day and night with tech news that we felt the other had to see immediately. He always had the coolest new gadgets. He knew exactly what computer programs would meet my obscure wants and got them for me... Even if he did so in an unconventional manner. When Gregory helped set up my laptop in January, he completely ignored my protests and installed a few new apps. It turns out that today, those are the programs I use most.

While in high school, Gregory and I were lucky enough to go three times to Google’s tech conference in San Francisco. Seeing the new technology, being surrounded by other geeks, and being on our own exploring the city was some of the most fun we ever had together. The following year sold out and Gregory and I couldn’t get in... So we made our own badges and crashed the after party.

Once Gregory moved to San Francisco, we spent even more time together exploring the city. We had a ton of fun attending Outside Lands music festival with the masses in Golden Gate Park, where Gregory used clever social engineering to sneak me into the VIP areas.

Gregory was the most generous person I have ever met. If he had something extra, or something he thought I might enjoy, he would just give it to me. I always insisted that I would just borrow the item and give it back when he needed it, but not once did he ask me to return a thing. He shared everything with his friends, and even set up a system to share his huge collection of movies and music.

I always assumed that my friendship with Gregory would span seven, maybe even eight or nine, decades. I certainly never imagined it would be cut so short that I would be deprived of my best friend at the age of 22. I am going to miss his inquisitiveness, over-the-top generosity, well-intentioned mischievousness, and kindness. But most of all I am going to miss his friendship.

My heart goes out to all of us who loved Gregory, and especially to his amazing family. I know he loved you all very much.

Gregory Thomas Lee

Gregory was a young man who lived his life with steadfast loyalty and a generous spirit. He loved his family, genuinely cared for his friends, was profoundly curious about the world, immersed himself in cutting-edge technology, had great appreciation for film and photography, and was an avid traveler and food enthusiast.

During any family celebration or holiday get together, Gregory could be found demonstrating the latest technological wonders or discussing the finer culinary aspects of the dishes being served. He contributed regularly to his mom’s cooking blog, performing the roles of sous chef, photographer, critic, and tech guru.

One of Gregory’s greatest joys was sharing his passion for technology with others. Friends, family, and even new acquaintances benefitted from his vast knowledge of high-tech tools that could solve just about any dilemma. He could regularly be found repairing a cell phone, tablet or computer; developing a website; or bringing groups of friends together to share common online interests. His talents led to engagements with small-business owners who were appreciative of his thoughtful solutions to technical challenges.

Gregory’s generosity knew no bounds. If he thought a friend would enjoy something of his, he ignored all protests and immediately transferred ownership. As a teen, Gregory worked on a project to increase awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease to honor his paternal grandmother, Mary Lee. More recently, he participated in the San Francisco Women’s March along with family and friends, creating a video to commemorate the experience and his belief in social justice. 

Gregory demonstrated unerring kindness to everyone he met. His innate sweetness was apparent to anyone who took the time to get to know him and all are richer for it. After bringing so much happiness to others, it seems fitting that Gregory’s sign-off on a text message just a few hours before his unexpected passing was a smiley face.

Gregory will be missed by his parents, Beth and Douglas Lee, his sister, Alison, grandparents Sandy and Dave Corman, with whom he had a very special connection, his girlfriend, Tori Grace, and his many loving aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.