Lee H. Salisbury died peacefully on Sunday, March 8, 2015, on Bainbridge Island, Washington, exiting the stage for the last time at age 87, with family present. Born June 6, 1927, to Thomas and Mary Salisbury, his early life was spent in New York City. After a brief stint in technical college, Lee joined the U.S. Navy in 1943, serving in Guam and Shanghai.
On returning to New York City at the end of WWII, he attended New York University on the GI Bill, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in '49 followed by a master's from Columbia University in 1950.
Lee spent the next seven years immersed in the world of N.Y.C. theater and radio, an experience that shaped his vocation and passions for the next seven decades. Moving west in early 1954 to direct a play for the California Parks Department, Lee met and married Lesley Voute Hampton, a dancer and violinist choreographing the production.
They were both teaching in the San Carlos School District when lured to Fairbanks by Lesley's sister, Druska Schaible, then Dean of Women and head of the Biology Department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Though Lee's primary teaching responsibilities at UAF were in speech and radio, he immediately started directing plays (his first love) on campus. Those first productions were staged in the gym - juggling rehearsals and performances around basketball games and ROTC practices.
In 1969, a new Fine Arts Complex was built, providing Lee with his first real theater on campus, renamed The Lee H. Salisbury Theater in his honor in 1993. Lee also served for a decade as a commissioner of the Alaska Broadcast Commission, helping establish the public radio system and UAF's station, KUAC-FM.
In 2007, Lee moved to Bainbridge Island, Washington, to be close to his family. He continued to do play readings, meet with a group of movie buffs, enjoy many improv performances at Bainbridge Performing Arts, and spend time with his kids and grandkids.
Lee was preceded in death by his wife, Lesley, and is survived by his children, Lisa, Tom, Lex, Druska; their sister Katie Egowa Beals; grandchildren Alex Salisbury, Grace and Griffin Salisbury, Neva Coats Beals and Lawrence W. Beals; and great-grandchildren Nick and Jack Coats.
He is remembered by his family, hundreds of students, and a multitude of Alaskan colleagues as a fine actor, stellar director, affable storyteller, the voice of Alaska One, L. Southwick, the makeup artist; master of accents, and a pretty damned good singer and dancer. His kids grew up thinking everyone read plays at the dinner table and had parties where show tunes on the piano and impromptu performances were the norm.
Please see www.cookfamilyfuneralhome.com
for full obituary and sign Lee's guestbook. There will be a memorial celebration for family and friends in Poulsbo, Washington, in April and in Fairbanks in August.
For information please contact [email protected]
or [email protected]
Please visit www.legacy.com/obituaries/newsminer
to sign an online guest book.
Published by Daily News-Miner on Apr. 5, 2015.