Lee Sawyer
1981 - 2020
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Sawyer, Lee
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.

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Published in Middletown Press on Nov. 4, 2020.
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21 entries
November 17, 2020
Lee always held a cheerful presence even during chaotic time. He helped me learn the ropes when I began working the halls of the capital a few years ago. He always had a kind word and a realistic view of the world around him. I considered Lee a friend beyond a colleague will truely miss seeing him and his calm soul.
Bill Lucey
Friend
November 10, 2020
I’m so so so sorry for your loss. Lee was an incredibly amazing man. I told someone today when I found of his passing that I always thought of Lee, Alex Kragie, and, Paul Mounds as a triumvirate of incredible niceness.
Dwayne Gardner
Coworker
November 10, 2020
I am so sad to hear of Lee’s passing. I had the honor of working with him at Goodwin College. We always had stimulating political conversations. We might not have fully agreed with each other, but I believe we always respected each other’s positions. As for Lee helping others, I shall never drive under the Charter Oak Bridge in East Hartford without thinking of him. I had popped a tire after work and had called a co-worker in Lee’s department to share the news of my misfortune. Lee overheard the conversation and within minutes, he was there changing my tire. Such a perfect example of the type of caring person he was. RIP
Holly Greene
Coworker
November 9, 2020
I had the very good fortune to work with Lee on a number of legislative and administrative initiatives over several years. One word comes to mind now when I think back on those occasions - a word that I would typically associate with someone much older than Lee. That word is "gentleman". Over my career I can't think of anyone of any age who better fit that description than Lee. I can't imagine the feeling of loss his family is experiencing as well as his many friends and colleagues at DEEP. I am deeply sorry for your loss. Lee's spirit elevated an incredible number of people while he was alive and that impact, along with all our collective memories will endure.
Eric Brown
Friend
November 8, 2020
Lee was a friend in the truest sense of the word. I will treasure my memories of him often. Comfort to everyone he loved and who loved him.
Mary Ellen Kujawski
Friend
November 8, 2020
To Lee's Whole Family,
What a rich life has been woven in the time Lee was gifted to this planet! Lee was a student in my Earth science class back in the 1990s. He left such a positive imprint in my memories. I am deeply saddened by the news of his passing. May fond memories heal the ache in your hearts and heal the wounds of loss.
Susan Michael
Teacher
November 6, 2020
My deepest condolences to Samantha, Sadie, Natalie, and Raina. I went to law school with Lee and he was always so thoughtful and kind. I am so sorry for your loss.
Lesley Chuang
Classmate
November 6, 2020
In 35 years at the Journal Inquirer, I have worked with many fellow reporters, but precious few stood out the way Lee did. He was also a really nice guy. I was very sorry to see him leave journalism, but I understood that everybody has to make a living. I'm so sorry about your loss, particularly on the heels of the fire trauma. I'm sure the worst part for him would be not being able to see his daughters through to adulthood. This is a huge loss.
Alex Wood
Coworker
November 6, 2020
I had the privilege of working with Lee on a very difficult project at DEEP which required great leadership to move forward, he succeeded. He had the ability to bring together many people with different views. His kindness and respect for others will be sorely missed.
Jim Binder
November 5, 2020
Eternal Affection Arrangement- BASKET INCLUDED
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Wilfred Eagles
November 5, 2020
My sincere condolences on Lee's passing. I've known Lee for 6 years and I will miss him dearly. I met him at DEEP and had great conversations about law and the environment. He was a kind and gentle man and was calm and steady when others were not. He knew everything would work out, nothing ruffled him. Rest in peace friend.
Gabrielle Frigon
Coworker
November 5, 2020
May you watch over your beautiful Wife and 3 Daughters.God Bless
Cindi and the Split Enz Family
Acquaintance
November 5, 2020
As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.
Cindi Fraser
Acquaintance
November 5, 2020
What a beautifully wtitten obit.
Didn't know this kind, intelligent, giving man. Wish I had the opportunity to meet him, we had so many of the same earthly interests and the environment.
So sad for his large family, wife, children, parents, brothers/sisters, everyone who loved and knew this shining star. So young, capable, with a great intellect. Life is a mystery.
Why him? No answer.
My heart aches for his wife,/children. I will definitely
contribute to make life more comfortable.for them
RIP Mr. Lee. Fly high above the clouds. Angels will meet you.
Your with the Lord.
Rest, fine gentle man.
God bless you.

I admired your intellect.
An enviromental friend.



November 5, 2020
Lee was my student at CCSU and I thought the world of him. He was bright and very interested in the world around him. I was very happy when he chose to go to UConn Law. He had so much to give to society and his passing so young is a serious loss to all of us.
Con O'Leary
Con O'Leary
Teacher
November 5, 2020
I worked with Lee at the JI some years ago, and he was one of my favorites. Just a kind, smart, gentle curious person. I ran in to him a few years ago at a gas station and he was just as I remembered, except now married and a lawyer. What a beautiful telling of his life here. My deepest sympathies to his large and loving family and friends. Lee made a difference.
Heather Nann Collins
Coworker
November 4, 2020
I met Lee When he was in high school I knew Samantha in passing when she worked at the mobile gas station , She was kind and sweet really into her novels, and what I knew of Lee he was really into books him self really a smart kid. The fire did not take away anything that cant be replaced it might shake you a little Samantha but this is going to make a fighter you can do this I know in the heart of you, you will take this fight and win, I have faith in you , if you need to read a book and go away for a little while . I will read one with you .
Stanley ware
Acquaintance
November 4, 2020
Having worked with Lee I was able to see his love for nature and for serving his community and the state. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. May knowing his energy has simply transferred into a different matter in the universe help ease the pain during this very trying time. May his legacy live on in the girls!
Ashley Moser
Coworker
November 4, 2020
I worked with and for Lee for several years when I was an intern at Goodwin College. In our time there together, I considered him a mentor and a friend. I will always look up to you, Lee.
Nick Phillips
Coworker
November 4, 2020
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Theresa Rourke
Acquaintance
November 4, 2020
Lee was much liked and respected at the Journal Inquirer and it didn't surprise his editors that he was able to advance so far so fast. This is a great loss not just to his family but to Connecticut and the world beyond. Condolences from his former colleagues at the newspaper.
Chris Powell
Coworker
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