LEE, William Shields
9/20/1915 – 6/30/2012
Our father passed away peacefully recently following a brief illness. He was born on September 20, 1915 to Judge William Erwin Lee and Madeline Shields Lee. He was raised initially in Moscow, Idaho but later moved to Washington, DC when his father was appointed to the Interstate Commerce Commission. He returned to the Northwest later where he graduated from the University of Idaho in 1937 and graduated with honors from Harvard Law School in 1940. Bill married Ellen Elizabeth Kerl, our mother and also from Idaho, in 1941.
In World War II he served in the United States Navy in the office of the Judge Advocate in the Pacific theatre. After the war, he and his young family moved to the Los Angeles area where he commenced his law practice. A few years later the family moved to Newport Beach, California in 1956. Bill’s interests included government, politics and exploration of the natural world. During his life he met a variety of elected officials, including President Franklin Roosevelt, Senator John Kennedy, and California Governor Edmund (Pat) Brown. Bill Lee loved the Sierra Nevada and the Borrego State Park and often took his family on road trips. For years he was an active member of the Costa Mesa Kiwanis Club serving as its president.
In 1959 Governor Brown appointed him to the Costa Mesa Municipal Court where he served until he was appointed to the Orange County Superior Court in 1962. He presided there until his retirement in 1982. He never lost his love of writing and in his later years made us laugh with his playful email messages. A tireless scholar, Bill developed a fascination with volcanoes and earthquakes in retirement.
He is survived by four sons, William Shields Lee, Jr., John Karl Lee, Thomas Frederick Lee and Richard Henry Lee. Please call for information about the memorial service at 310-266-3193. The family requests that memorial gifts be sent to the Nature Conservancy http://www.nature.org or charity of choice.