Charles Lee

LEE, Charles McDowell, 89, a resident of Montgomery and Auburn, passed away on April 17, 2014.

He was born in Clayton on February 12, 1925, to Judge Huey Reynolds and Janet McDowell Lee. He attended Auburn University where he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity and served as a Student Senator. In 1943, he interrupted his studies to enlist in the U.S. Navy and served in both the European and Pacific Theaters of World War II. After the war, he attended Troy University where he was a member of Kappa Delta Pi and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies and earned a degree in education. In 1948, he was elected Mayor of Clio, becoming, at the age of 23, the youngest mayor in the United States. In 1950, he joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a special agent. Upon the death of his uncle, Archibald McDowell, in 1952 he resigned from the FBI and returned to Clio to administer the family businesses.

In 1954, he was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives, becoming the fourth generation of his family to serve in the Alabama Legislature. During his eight years of service, he was named "Outstanding Freshman" of 1955 and "Best Debater" in1959 by the Alabama Press Association. He served on the Committees on Ways & Means and Agriculture, and was an advocate of agricultural interests. He was a National Committeeman and National Vice President of the Young Democrats of America, and in 1961, Lee was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to the National Agricultural Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In 1963, he was unanimously elected Secretary of the Alabama State Senate, a position he held for 47 years, making him the longest serving senate secretary in the nation's history. During his tenure, he served as President of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries, and from that organization received the Joseph A. Beek Distinguished Service Award. As a nationally recognized authority on parliamentary law and legislative procedure, Lee was a respected advisor to the National Conference of State Legislatures and for over 20 years served on the Revision Committee of Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, the primary source of rules and procedures utilized by state legislatures.

In 1967 he was appointed to the Troy University Board of Trustees, and served as President Pro-Tem of that governing body from 1967 to 1979. In 1979 Troy University awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Law degree and in 1985 named its varsity aquatics center the "Charles McDowell Lee Natatorium." In 2000, he was honored with the first Troy University Distinguished Leadership award.

Also in 2000, the Alabama Legislature and the City of Montgomery honored him by naming the street adjacent to the north side of the Alabama Statehouse "McDowell Lee Lane."

His wife, Hazel Johnston Lee of Auburn, survives him. He is also survived by his children, sons Charles McDowell Lee, Jr., of Albuquerque, NM, and Kenneth Edwin Lee of Denver, CO; daughter Margaret Lee Cunningham and her husband, Steve, of Manchester, TN; daughter Josie Ellixson Lee of Montgomery; and son Archibald McDowell Lee and his wife, Charlsi, of Montgomery; and by his grandchildren, Janet Lee Price, Lee Cunningham, Anna Cunningham, Charles McDowell Lee, II, McKay Ellixson Lee, Anne Layton Lee, and Archibald McDowell Lee, Jr., and by his great-grandson, Nicholas Price. Also surviving are his stepchildren, Joy Johnston, Jan Johnston Pugh, and Scott Johnston and his wife, Chris; step-grandchildren, Haley Scheiblauer, Mitch and Peyton Pugh, Sam and Kevin Johnston, Ali and Jet Taylor; and step-great-grandchildren Ansley and Luke Scheiblauer.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Judge and Mrs. Huey Lee; his brother, Huey Reynolds Lee, Jr.; his sister, Margaret McKay Lee; and by his son Byron Gillespie Lee.

Honorary pallbearers are Jere Beasley, David Avant, Sen. John Allison Teague, Guice Slawson, Sr., Dr. Ed Bridges, Charles Moore, Sen. Ted Little, Jiles Williams, Sen. Crum Foshee, Patrick Harris, Art Mawhinney, Dr. Gerald Johnson, Bill Kennedy, Lewis Kelly, Dowe Littleton, and Johnny Crawford. The family will receive friends at Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home in Opelika on Monday, April 21, from 5:00-7:00 pm. Burial will be at Pea River Presbyterian Cemetery in Clio on Tuesday, April 22, at 1:00 pm, with Tripp Martin and Dan Ireland officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the East Alabama Cancer Center, to Hospice Advantage, or to the .


Funeral Home

Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home
1500 Frederick Road Opelika, AL 36801
(334) 749-8700

Published in the from Apr. 20 to Apr. 21, 2014