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Daniel Kai Lee


1930 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
Daniel Kai Lee Obituary
December 15, 1930 - December 14, 2015 Daniel Kai Lee was born on December 15, 1930 in Shanghai, China, the eldest of five children of Charles (Vee Zeu) Lee and Lucy (Wen Tien) Chu. At age 11, after some boys roughed him up and stole his bicycle, he took up boxing. In 1948, at age 18, he won the "Golden Gloves" championship of China. His father did not think he would win the national title and agreed to buy him a Harley Davidson motorcycle if he did. In 1949, he escaped from Shanghai on one of the last ships to get out before the city fell to communist forces. His Harley was among the only things he was able to take with him. The rickety, leftover WWII Japanese destroyer broke down many times and the normal 30 hour trip took 4 weeks. Dan spent his time assisting the radio operator and translating for the captain when they were assisted by a British destroyer that towed the ship to Taiwan. He and a friend toured the entire island of Taiwan on their motorcycles. Dan trained his German shepherd, Wolfie, to ride on the back of his motorcycle. Given the primitive state of the roads and infrastructure in the early 1950's, they were quite a sensation, and the press covered their trip. In 1953, Dan came to the US and earned a degree in electrical engineering from Utah State University. He became an engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the heady pre-Apollo days, before retiring after 30 years. He worked on many innovative projects including Galileo, Magellan, Mission to Mars and Topex/Poseidon. Always an athlete, he earned a brown belt in judo and black belt in Kenpo Karate before becoming the first student in Bruce Lee's Los Angeles Jeet Kune Do studio in 1967. He took up Tai Chi Chuan, and studied with some renowned early masters from China and Taiwan. He became a Tai Chi master and founded the Daniel Lee Tai Chi Chuan Academy, which he directed for 40 years. He went to be with the Lord on Monday, December 14, one day before his 85th birthday. He is survived by his wife, Helen Chang, her daughters Adilaide and Kitty Yao and grandchildren Austin Chang, Melanie and Russell Ma. He also is survived by his children Debbie Lee Bump (Dan Bump), Robert Lee (Janice Lee), Diana Lee Rose, Donna Lee Oda (Alan Oda) and grandchildren Paul & Rosalind Bump, Jennifer, Stephen, & Matthew Lee, and Peter & Andrew Oda.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Jan. 5 to Jan. 10, 2016
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