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Isabel Lee


1919 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Isabel (Gleasing) Lee of Dummerston, Vermont, age 97, died on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at Vernon Green Nursing Home, Vernon, Vermont. Isabel was born in Woodhaven (Queens), New York City on July 11, 1919. She was the younger daughter of Charles and Sarah Jane (Timmerman) Gleasing. Isabel attended public schools in the New York metropolitan area and graduated from Richmond Hill High School in Queens in 1936. She was a proud graduate of New York City's Barnard College, Class of 1940, AB in Sociology.

Isabel began her career as a reservations clerk with the fledgling American Airlines in Cleveland. Back then the reservations were tracked on a chalkboard and the reservations clerk had to phone each passenger to advise them of delays and cancelations. Luckily, the DC-3s held only 21 passengers. From there she moved to American Airlines reservations in Detroit, to be closer to her college flame, Richard Valentine Lee, a student at the University of Michigan.

They married in 1941, after his 3pm chemistry lab, with Dick's two male roommates flipping a coin to see who would be the bridesmaid.

A few months later, when the US entered WWII, Dick became a flight instructor for the US Army Air Corps. Early married life was itinerant, as they moved between small midwestern towns with airfields whose owners held Army Air Corps training contracts.

As they moved around, Isabel tried her hand at various war production factory jobs. Eventually Isabel went back to work for American Airlines and was at the teletype machine when the airline put out a hiring call for pilots to fly war-essential cargo. Dick became a co-pilot for American. The couple moved to Nashville and later back east to Kew Gardens in Queens, NY.

In 1944 Isabel became the first woman to staff the iconic information booth "under the clock" at Grand Central Terminal. Isabel's son Richard (Hank) was born in 1945 and her daughter Deborah in 1948. Like many post-war families, the Lees moved to the suburbs, settling in Massapequa on the south shore of Long Island. With her children in school, Isabel decided to become a teacher. She earned a Masters in Education from Hofstra College, Hempstead, New York. She taught 5th and 6th grade classes in the Massapequa public schools, primarily at Unqua School. In the 1960's she proudly walked the picket line to help establish the teachers' union there.

Widowed in 1970, by 1976 she was ready for new horizons. She moved to Thomas Hill in Halifax, Vermont in February 1976 and later that year sailed her sloop, "Serena" from Massapequa to her new winter residence on Pine Island, Florida. Her winter stays in Florida were devoted to caring for her elderly parents and ailing sister, Margaret. Back in Vermont during the spring, summer and fall, she delighted in getting to know her many new and interesting neighbors on Thomas Hill and in the Brattleboro area. By age 80 Isabel recognized that life in the hills of Halifax was no longer practical for her and she moved to Dummerston, Vermont.

Although she had grown up a city girl, Isabel loved her life in Vermont. She valued the natural beauty, the friendliness of the people, and the richness of the cultural life in Vermont and New England. She especially enjoyed the variety of great live music in Vermont, particularly the productions of Friends of Music of Guilford, "Noel Sing We Clear", the Marlboro Music Festival and Putney's Yellow Barn concerts.

Throughout her adult life she loved gardening and was a avid plant collector. She read widely and every week completed the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in about half an hour - in ink - while watching her favorite Masterpiece Theatre program on PBS. She was an accomplished cook and enjoyed entertaining frequently as she was rich in friends who visited her from around the country and the world. She had a life-long love of travel, whether a simple camping trip or excursions to Europe, South America or Asia. She always hoped she'd get in one more trip to Paris. In her later years she delighted in cruise ship travel.

Isabel is survived by her son Richard "Hank" Lee of Putney, Vermont, her daughter, Deborah Lee and her spouse Georgianne Copley of Eastford, Connecticut, plus a special friend, Johnny Carroll of Putney. She held dear the friendships of Nick and Carole Ann Zachary of Walpole, New Hampshire and their children Michael and Nicole, as well as of Muriel and John Stahl of Baldwin, New York.

Isabel's family is very grateful to all the people who helped her during her period of declining health, especially the caring staff of the Vernon Green Nursing Home, particularly the staff of the "B Wing". They will always be the "A Wing" to us!

SERVICES: Friends and family will gather to celebrate Isabel's life at a date to be announced.

In Isabel's memory contributions may be made to the Windham County Humane Society, 916 West River Rd., Brattleboro, VT 05301 (www.wchs4pets.org) or the .

To sign an online guestbook with messages of condolence please visit atamaniuk.com
Published in Brattleboro Reformer on Dec. 13, 2016
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