Martin "Van" Burean Lee, 84, died at Kitty Askins Hospice Center in Goldsboro on April 5, 2013. He was born to Clifton and Alice J. Lee on July 31, 1928 in Pantego, NC. He graduated from Pantego High School in 1945 and joined the Merchant Marines and then he went on to graduate from Atlantic Christian College in 1951. He was drafted into the US Marine Corps to serve in the Korean War and he returned home to continue his education. He completed his Masters degree at East Carolina University and went on to complete his Principal's certificate at ECU. Van was a member of Lanies Chapel Christian Church where he was a deacon and Sunday school teacher. He worked with the Lenoir County School System as a teacher, coach and principal. His Southwood teams played 158 games and won 137 of them for an 88 percent winning record. Van Lee's teams were the fear of Lenoir County teams because he got the best out of every player. He guided his team to seven basketball championships in 8 years and won seven straight tournament titles. He owned and operated Commercial Advertising, Inc. and was also a director at Caswell Center. Van was a former member of St. John's Masonic Lodge #4 and Southwood Ruritan. He was a member of Christopher's Breakfast Club and Blue Bird Café Breakfast Club. Van enjoyed attending his children and grandchildren's ballgames and sporting events but not their dance recitals and piano recitals. He loved fishing and hunting with family and friends. Van played baseball and golf and cards any chance he got. Mr. Lee always took a keen interest in his students and ball players and he was always proud of their accomplishments. He also enjoyed attending their reunions. He always gave his children great advice on everything and he always said: "Work hard and save your money." He was the self-appointed mayor of Vine Swamp. Preceding him in death are his daughter, Vanessa Lee Pearce, and son, Rusty Lee, granddaughter, Rebekah Pearce, and brother, David C. Lee, and sister, Jennie Harris. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Jean Wells Lee of the home (he always said he was married for "100 plus years"), his son, Floyd Lee; daughter, Glenda Lee Cahoon; son, Glen "Beet" Lee and wife Alice; son-in-law, David Pearce, daughter, Sissy Lee-Elmore and husband, Lynn; son, Jerry Lee and wife Beverly and daughter, Jennifer Alford and husband, Vance. Van is also survived by many treasured grandchildren as follows: Zachery Lee Pearce (Kelly), Abigale Pearce Boussani, Chris Cahoon (Kristie), Jenny Bowles (Clint), Jerome Cuevas, Jeff Cuevas (Tabitha), Josh Lee, Lara Lee, Todd Cahoon (Ashley), Mary Lee, Amanda Lee, Cassidy Elmore, Zeb Alford, Jordan Lee, and Martha Vann Alford. Van is also survived by 13 great-grandchildren and many loved brothers and sisters-in law. He was called "Grandpa", "Big Poppa" and "Poppa Honey". Uncle Van loved his many nieces and nephews very much. Visitation will be held at Edward's Funeral Home from 5pm to 7pm and the funeral at 7pm on Sunday, April 7 and a graveside service will be at Westview Cemetery on Monday, April 8 at 11am. Officiating will be Leland Heath and Eddie Phoenix. The family will receive guests at Van's home. Edwards Funeral Home is assisting with arrangements. (paid obituary)
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Published in Free Press from Apr. 7 to Apr. 10, 2013