Curtis Edwin Lee, 75, passed away Thursday, January 8, 2015 in San Diego, CA. He was born October 28, 1939 in Yuma, Arizona. Curtis graduated from Yuma High School and Pasadena College. He was the Owner of Lee Homes, LLC and Lee Real Estate & Investments. Curtis was a member of Yuma Southwest Contractors Association, City of Yuma Residential Advisory Board, Yuma Association of Realtors, Yuma Golf & Country Club, Board Member Champion Church. He loved golf and deep sea fishing, spending time with his family, and singing with friends and family.
If you are from Yuma, or just a doo wop fan anywhere, you know the name Curtis Lee. He was born and raised in Yuma with the voice of an angel, but had bigger dreams for himself and his career. He wanted to be a rock star. He began his recording career in 1960 when he met up with Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart of the Monkee's fame and Ray Peterson "Tell Laura I Love Her." They eventually moved to New York and were introduced to Phil Spector who was the new hot record producer at that time known for the "wall of sound." From that collaboration came his Billboard Hit "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" which he wrote with Tommy Boyce, followed by another Billboard Hit "Under the Moon of Love." He toured the country with big names such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Fabian, Jackie Wilson, Gary U.S. Bonds, Ricky Nelson and The Platters. He also collaborated with Carol King to record her "Just Another Fool" single.
He eventually returned to Yuma and dug roots down deep, where he met the love of his life and wife of 51 years, Lydia Lee. They started a family with the addition of their daughter, Tina, followed by Stephanie, Brandon and Darren.
He teamed up in the family construction business to work with his Father at Homer Lee and Son Construction. After working beside his father for many years, in 1969 he took over the business and developed it into one of the oldest and largest residential construction/development companies in Yuma, which is currently known as Lee Homes, LLC. He developed several projects around town such as Rancho Viejo, Old World Village, Rancho Verde, Rancho Sereno, and his current project of Falls Ranch. Some of his commercial projects included the remodel of the Crescent Center and the Shaw Carpet building.
One of his proudest projects was assisting in the construction/design of Champion Church, which he had a hand in from the ground up. His true musical heart was developed in his early years singing the old gospel tunes alongside his parents and sister, Betty, in churches that he watched his father build as a young man.
He was also involved in the community, anywhere from helping bring Grid Kids/Pop Warner, the first little league football to Yuma, BMX racing and contributed to Yuma High School Choralairs. He also served on the Residential Building Advisory Board for the City of Yuma, to mention a few.
Curtis was and will be remembered not only as a local boy that hit it big but as a true family man who believed in the small town values and roots. His happiest moments were when he was surrounded amongst the chaos of his many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His legend will live on through his music and the fond memories of all he touched.
Curtis is survived by his wife, Lydia Lee of Yuma; sisters, Helen M. (Patsy) Lee and Betty (Dale) Snell of Yuma; daughters, Tina Lee (Andy) Ricker and Stephanie Lee-Howell (Dustin Drumm), of Yuma; sons, Brandon Lee (Jennifer Undine) and Darren Lee (Lisa Manchester), of Yuma; grandchildren, Brittani Lee (Ronnie) Rojas, Debanee (Kyle) Hardin, Robert (Ashley) Gonzales, Desiree Lee Howell and Morgan Bryce Howell; great grandchildren, Meadow Hope Harrison, Faith Chanel Hardin, Stella Rose Hardin, Ava Lee Gonzales, Memphis Curtis O'Neil Hardin, and Emma Claire Gonzales; step-grandchildren, Kyndra Leigh Ricker, Jayna Alyse Ricker, Austin Drumm, and Curtis Andrew Ricker; step-great grandchildren, Savanah Rojas, Sarah Rojas and Jasmine Jones; and several nieces, nephews and cousins. Curtis was preceded in death by his father, Home Lee; mother, Lillie Lee; sister, Matilda (Sissy) Lee; brother-in-law, Bill Stafford; niece, Donna Ann Stafford; nephew, Greg Stafford; son-in-law, Jason Howell.
Funeral service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at Champion Church, 3625 S. Avenue 5E, Yuma, with Pastor Stephen Bloomfield officiating. Final resting place will be at Desert Lawn Memorial Park. Pallbearers: Andrew Ricker, Dustin Drumm, Robert Gonzales, Ronnie Rojas, Kyle Hardin, and Morgan Howell. Honorary Pallbearers: Bill Britain, Davey Brooks, Henry Buijnorouski, Harvey Campbell, Tim Dunn, Mike Edwards, Jack Fritz, Bill Meinhardt, Dennis Monypeny, Virgil Moore, Robert Murray, Gary Pasquinelli, Warren (Porky) Pierson, and Ricky Sellers.
Memorial Donations in memory of Curtis Lee can be made to Bridget's Gift Foundation, PO Box 2812, Yuma, AZ 85366 (928) 723-5388, www.BridgetsGift.com
to support local cancer survivors. Or to TGen Foundation (Translational Genomics Research Institute), 445 N. Fifth Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004, (602) 343-8400, www.Tgenfoundation.org
, a non-profit biomedical research institute that was instrumental in guiding him through his battle with cancer.
Published by Yuma Sun from Jan. 15 to Jan. 16, 2015.