Harry Lee Obituary

Harry  Gravely Lee
Harry Gravely Lee

June 27, 2019
Resided in Richmond, VA
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LEE, Harry Gravely, passed away quietly in his residence at Westminster Canterbury in Richmond, Virginia, on June 27, 2019, at the age of 93. He was a founding partner and the executive vice-president of local general contractor, Kjellstrom & Lee, Inc. He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Elizabeth Cheves Lee; five children, James M. Lee, E. Preston Lee, Hope L. Marshall and her husband, John, Harry G. Lee Jr. and Melinda C. Lee; 10 grandchildren, Anne Marshall, Elizabeth Lee, Courtney Thompson, James Lee, Margaret Marshall, Ellie Tate, Charlotte Gomer, Helen Lee, Virginia Lee and Harry Lee III; and three great-grandchildren. Born in Richmond in 1925, he was the son of Hope Gravely Lee and Merrill Clifford Lee. A 1943 graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School, he matriculated into the Corps of Cadets at the Virginia Military Institute that same summer, and then quickly went into the U.S. Navy as an Ensign. He continued his education at Columbia University while he began his Naval diving and salvage training. During his time in the Navy, he served on the USS Preserver, where he headed a team of engineers that pulled the battleship USS Missouri from the mud banks of the Hampton Roads shipping channel. He then continued his service in the Navy in the Pacific Theater, where he was part of the salvage team in the initial advanced nuclear testing in the Bikini Atoll. Later in 1946, he returned to VMI and finished his degree, graduating with the Class of 1947. Having remained in the Naval Reserve, he was recalled to active duty during the Korean War, where he served two years as an officer on the USS Hoist. Harry was immensely proud of his Naval history, and combined with his time at VMI, he always felt that the military training was central to his success in later life. In 1948, he received his Professional Engineer’s license and worked briefly with his father’s architectural firm, Merrill C. Lee & Associates, before joining the construction firm of Doyle & Russell, Inc. in 1949, where as a project executive he directly managed many notable construction jobs, culminating with the University of Virginia’s Main Hospital in the late 1950s. In 1961, he and David Kjellstrom founded Kjellstrom & Lee, which specialized in commercial, industrial and medical construction in Central Virginia. He was a strong and influential leader in the local construction industry, and served as the President of the Associated General Contractors of Virginia. In 1986, he retired from Kjellstrom & Lee, but remained very active in major construction in the area, becoming the owner’s consultant and representative on several significant projects, including the Riverfront Plaza office towers, SunTrust Operations & Mortgage Center and the Memorial Regional Medical Center in Hanover County. As one of VMI’s greatest advocates, he served as President of the VMI Alumni Association, was appointed by Governor Godwin to the VMI Board of Visitors in 1977 and served as its President from 1983 to 1985, served on the Board of Trustees of the VMI Foundation from 1973 to 1995 and was awarded the VMI Foundation’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award in 1996. The George C. Marshall Foundation was especially meaningful to Harry and he served on its Board of Trustees for many years. He was deeply passionate about its mission of perpetuating General Marshall’s legacy of winning both “the war and the peace” and aiding in the development of leadership qualities and exemplary character around the globe. Harry served for many decades on the Board of Directors of the Sheltering Arms Hospital Foundation, including as its President from 1989 to 1991. In his long association with Westminster Canterbury, he served in many capacities including both as a Director of the corporation and the President of the Westminster Canterbury Foundation. He was awarded the Foundation’s Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Award for Distinguished Voluntary Leadership Service to Westminster Canterbury. As a very dedicated Episcopalian he served as a Trustee of the Church Schools in the Diocese of Virginia, and as a parishioner of St. Stephens Episcopal Church, which he served many times as a Vestryman and as a Scoutmaster of the church’s Boy Scout Troop 718. Harry was a lifelong member of the Country Club of Virginia, and served on its Board of Directors, including as its President. He was a longtime and active member of the Commonwealth Club, where he often won the Blue Ribbon for his masterful leadership of the Turkey Trot in the ballroom! Besides his deep passion for all things VMI, he also enjoyed traveling the world with his wife, Elizabeth. He was an avid hunter and a very accomplished golfer, who brought more than one of the world’s finest golf courses to its knees! He was also a longtime member of both the 55ers Golf Association and the Lilly Point Hunt Club. Harry was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather - and a friend and mentor to more than can be counted. He will be missed by all! The family wishes to extend its gratitude to all the staff and caregivers at Westminster Canterbury who watched over him, especially Charles Carter, who provided invaluable friendship and compassion in his last years. In lieu of flowers, contributions should be made to either the Sheltering Arms Foundation or to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. The family will hold a private burial in Hollywood Cemetery. A Service of Celebration of Harry’s life will be held 1:30 p.m. Thursday, September 12, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 6000 Grove Ave., where we look forward to seeing everyone there to help us honor our husband, father, grandfather and friend!




Private Burial
Service of Celebration of Harry's life
Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church
6000 Grove Ave
Richmond, VA US 23226
Thursday, September 12, 2019
1:30 PM


Sheltering Arms Foundation
140 East Shore Drive
Glen Allen, VA 23059
St. Stephens Episcopal Church
6000 Grove Avenue
Richmond, Virginia 23226