POINT PLEASANT — On Sunday, the Point Pleasant River Museum will celebrate the birthday of a lifetime supporter and member of the museum — the late Roger Lee, who passed away last year.
The museum will have free admission Aug. 31 and will serve birthday cake to remember Lee and celebrate his birthday.
Lee passed away in March 2013 at age 80, and was a lifelong financial supporter and member of the museum, as well as a lifelong friend of the River Museum’s executive director, Jack Fowler.
“Roger learned the meaning of hard work at a young age, helping his family generate income raising cattle and growing crops. There was not much free time to allow him to get into boyish trouble, but Roger always found a way. He ran with some ornery friends that had a lot of influence on some of the shenanigans he pulled as a teenager,” Fowler said.
Lee grew up on a small farm in Mason County. Fowler said Lee was a very personable young man in high school and enjoyed playing football in school.
“When he entered high school, he was a personable, high-spirited young man with curly, reddish hair, a smile on his face and a ‘devil-may-care’ attitude. He became a tough, hard-hitting defensive tackle on the 1949 and 1950 Point Pleasant High School Big Blacks football team, always giving maximum effort,” he said.
Lee also served in the U.S. Air Force, which enabled him to travel the world.
“Upon entering the Air Force, Roger became involved with communications and satellite development. His assignments took him to various bases in the United States and overseas. Much of his time was spent working with contract maintenance companies, who helped install and support the United States’ programs. The experience he gained prepared him for a career with Bendix Radio when he left the Air Force in 1959. He retired from the NASA Space Center as a project engineer in Houston in 1993,” Fowler said.
Family was a very important part of Lee’s life as well. The unexpected death of his daughter who was killed in a car accident, and then later the death of his wife, was very devastating to him, Fowler said.
The death of his wife and daughter ultimately led Lee to return to Mason County after living in the Canary Islands, where he owned property and enjoyed sailing and fishing with his family.
“Roger was not the same person that left Mason County in 1951,” Fowler said. “Though he had changed in many ways, he still had his love for the family land and the people he had known as family and friends for so many years. He came to town looking for those programs and organizations that needed assistance. He wanted to help his community by providing funding where it was needed.”
In addition to his financial community support, Lee also wrote a book titled “Autobiography of a Good Life: Growing Up in West Virginia on a Hill Farm, Getting an Education, Traveling in a World Filled with Friends,” which was published in 2000.
“It was a very interesting book about his own life,” Ruth Fout, administrative assistant of the River Museum, said.
Fowler said Lee will primarily be remembered for his generosity and what he gave to the community around him.
“Roger said on several occasions his goal was to die broke,” he said. “He was very generous with his giving and will be remembered by this community and those whose lives he touched.”