Lee Equinox Sawyer, of Middletown, Connecticut, departed this world peacefully, but unexpectedly, on the morning of October 31, 2020. He was 38. The first child of Diana Lynn Newman and the late Phillip Neal Sawyer, Lee arrived on November 11, 1981, in Marlow, New Hampshire. He was a beloved father, husband, brother, son, grandson, uncle, nephew, cousin, mentor, friend, and pillar of the community. He is survived by his wife, soulmate, and best friend, Samantha Claire Sawyer, and their three beautiful daughters, Sadie Claire (13), Natalie Winter (10), and Raina Stone Sawyer (5). He also leaves his mother Diana and her husband Tom Newman of Maine, his aunt Cathy Lee Ramsdell of Maine, his sister Juniper Stromer of Arizona, three brothers Noah, Josh (Em), and Nick Sawyer of Maine, several cousins including Julie Sawyer of Connecticut and Wendy (PJ) Sawyer of Massachusetts who were like sisters to him, and multitudes of other loved ones. Lee graduated from Coginchaug Regional High School in 1999, and went on to earn his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Public Administration from Central Connecticut State University, then his Graduate Certificate in Public Relations from the same. He earned his JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2013. His education was as much practical as it was traditional; while pursuing his degrees and raising his family, he was also working tirelessly with organizations including the Manchester Journal Inquirer and Goodwin College, and volunteering with the Jennifer Jaff Center, the Middletown Conservation Commission, and the Connecticut Invention Convention, Inc. After finishing law school, he completed a public policy fellowship with the ZOOM Foundation before going on to envision and launch RecycleCT, a foundation devoted to increasing recycling in Connecticut. Finally, he found his perfect role with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), holding the title of Chief of Staff. Lee was a pure, bold, brilliant force of intellect and kindness. We will always remember him for his warmth, humor, integrity, dignity, strength, grace, and authenticity. He imparted joy, hope, guidance, and comfort to every life he touched, and he sought to make positive changes in every place he went. Samantha was the love of Lee's life. The profound trials they endured before they met each other only served to strengthen their bond, which remains unbroken even now. It was as if when Lee, Samantha, and Sadie were united, the pieces of an intricate puzzle finally settled right where they belonged. Samantha's brother David, sister Lauren, mother Trish and her husband Bob, recognized instantly, as did Lee's family, that Lee and Samantha were links in a chain that holds two families together. Not only did Sadie transform Lee into a father, making him the happiest man in the world, Lee also became a brother all over again to David and Lauren, an uncle to Lauren's sons Teddy and Ben, and a son to Tricia and Bob. Because of the person Lee was, we are connected now in ways that continue to surprise and enrich us all. For everyone in this whole, huge, wonderful, complicated family, Lee was our rock. Lee gently instilled in his daughters his immense respect and appreciation of nature and all of its creations. He nurtured their minds by sharing his passions with them – camping, hiking, astronomy, science, philosophy, social and environmental consciousness, and so much more. He was happiest when he was outside exploring the wonders of this earth with his daughters and wife. He nurtured their hearts with a love beyond measure. Even after losing their home 2 months ago to a devastating fire, Lee and Samantha and their incredibly resilient children courageously moved forward together, with nothing but humility and gratitude, to face what they thought would be their most difficult challenge. Lee was both inherently faithful in the goodness of mankind, and incredibly perceptive of the balance of the world. The tragedy of his passing seems impossible to comprehend; yet we must remember – as he would want us to – that his path is simply following the natural order of things. Lee believed in science and logic above all else, and he would want to remind us now that science has proven reliably that energy in the universe is never created, nor is energy ever destroyed. The only certain conclusion then, he would reason, is that his own energy will never be gone from the universe; it has simply transformed. His life was short but full because he never wasted one second of it. We must find a way to accept peace with his departure by rejoicing in having been part of his amazing life. He is free of earthly troubles now as he heads out for the next part of his journey. Being part of Lee's existence is a gift for which we will all remain forever grateful. All are welcome to join us between 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, November 8, 2020 for a Celebration of Lee's Life at Biega Funeral Home, 3 Silver Street, Middletown, CT, 06457. Mindful of COVID-19, precautions including masks and social distancing will be observed, and we also honor Lee's memory by respecting and understanding anyone's decision not to attend due to the pandemic or any other hardship. A trust has been established to help Lee and Samantha's family as they brace to recover now from these tremendous losses. Contributions to the Sawyer Family Fund at Liberty Bank would be gratefully accepted in lieu of flowers.
Published in Middletown Press on Nov. 4, 2020.