Mary Ella Blair Lee, 86, died peacefully in her sleep Feb. 2, 2021 surrounded by her beloved antique furniture and the love and devotion of her entire family. Her nurturing nature and one-of-a-kind wit will be missed by all who knew her.
Born to Ruben and Edna Duke Blair on July 10, 1934, Mrs. Lee is preceded in death by her parents; her husband of 34 years, Dr. Robert E. Lee of Greenville, Miss., and a sister, Shirley Ann Blair of Old Hickory, Tenn.
She is survived by her four sons, Dr. Robert Blair Lee (Scottye) of Franklin, Tenn.; Dr. Barry Russell Lee of Charlotte, N.C.; Dr. Gary Francis Lee (Tena) of Hendersonville, Tenn.; Dr. William Fitzhugh Lee (Beth) of Brentwood, Tenn.; and 12 grandchildren, Dr. Rebecca Lee (Dr. Joseph Prechter); Kirby Lee; Barry Lee (Spencer Lambert); Rachael Lee; Crawford Lee; Lauren Lee; Matthew Lee; Jacob Lee; Andrew Lee; Katie Lee; Cooper Lee and Patrick Lee.
Mary grew up in Old Hickory, Tenn., where her father worked for the DuPont Rayon Plant. While in elementary school, she formed friendships that would last a lifetime with Patsy, June, Dot, Jerry, Hazel, Peggy, Mary Frances, Betty Jo, and Margaret – known affectionately to Mrs. Lee’s family as the “Ya-Ya Sisters.” Mary had her fair share of suitors at DuPont High School where she was named Miss DuPont High twice before graduating in 1952.
While attending the School of Nursing at St. Thomas Hospital, Mary met and fell in love with a handsome Internal Medicine Resident named Bob Lee. The two married on Oct. 1, 1955 and later settled in Greenville, Miss.
Mrs. Lee was an active member of the Junior Auxiliary of Greenville, the Greenville Garden Club, and First Baptist Church of Greenville. For several years she organized the annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser at Washington School, where her husband was a founding board member. Mrs. Lee also occasionally served as a substitute teacher at the school where stories of her teaching sex education have provided an endless source of enjoyment to her sons and their friends over the years.
After the love of her life passed away in 1990, Mrs. Lee moved back home to Tennessee where she focused her energy for a time on teaching preschool and reconnecting with her childhood friends.
She loved few things more than shopping; cooking for family and friends; cheering on (or yelling at) the Tennessee Titans; watching Fox News at an unusually high volume; and a good Julia Reed book.
Mrs. Lee’s family would like to thank her caregiver Teresa Hazelwood for her devotion and care, as well as the entire staff of Clarendale at Indian Lake for their kindness and patience.
The family will hold a graveside service at Greenville Cemetery at 11 a.m. on Feb. 13 followed by a celebration of Mrs. Lee’s full and spirited life at a well-known local eatery.
Anyone who would like to make a donation in Mrs. Lee’s memory may do so to the Robert E. Lee Scholarship Fund at Washington School, 1605 East Reed Road, Greenville, Miss., 38703.