Obituary: Jeffrey Lee, 1950-2020 | Seven Days Vermont

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Obituary: Jeffrey Lee, 1950-2020 

Burlington man remembered for his gentle nature, good humor and love of learning

Published August 25, 2020 at 6:10 a.m. | Updated August 25, 2020 at 8:37 p.m.

click to enlarge Jeffrey Lee - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Jeffrey Lee

Jeffrey Armistead Lee died on July 26, 2020, in Shelburne, Vt., after living with Lewy Body dementia for a number of years.

Jeff was born on November 7, 1950, in Wellington, New Zealand, where his parents, Armistead Mason Lee and Eleanore Ruggles Lee, were stationed for the Foreign Service. Jeff’s childhood homes spanned the world, including Washington, D.C.; Jamaica; Massachusetts; Iceland; West Virginia; Belgium; Virginia; and Vermont. He graduated from Sandy Spring Friends School, where he was first introduced to Quaker traditions, for which he would develop a lifelong appreciation. He earned a bachelor’s degree with concentrations in history, philosophy and political science from the University of Vermont in 1973, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and went on to earn a law degree from the University of Richmond in 1977.

After practicing law for several years, Jeff pursued work in commercial construction, eventually establishing his own company, Virginia Construction and Restoration, specializing in fine art lighting. Jeff treasured the many customers he came to call friends and all the richness and opportunity those relationships lent to his life.

Jeff was fascinated by philosophy and history, music and art, politics and foreign affairs. His passion for learning about them seemed limitless — when asked, he would say that his dream job was “student.” He loved meeting new people, playing the guitar and the video production hobby that perpetually threatened to become a new business. And he was loved: Jeff’s gentle nature, endless curiosity, good humor and quick wit earned him a vast circle of friends and admirers.

Jeff was married for 20 years to Margaret Victoria Lee and is survived by his son Tom Lee (Steph Tatham); daughter Beth Lee; sisters Eleanore R. Lee (Ron Elson) and Rebecca Lee (Bobo Stephen Smith), who also served as his devoted caregiver for many years; granddaughters Eleanore and Elizabeth Tatham Lee; and numerous nieces and nephews. Jeff cherished his family, and our lives were made immeasurably richer by his example, kindness and love.

In his final years, Jeff was able to spend time in northern Virginia, Jamaica and Vermont, all places he held close to his heart. In particular, the Burlington, Vt., community embraced Jeff in his later years and, thanks to the city’s collective goodwill and his caregiver Jill Snapp, he was able to continue enjoying walks to Lake Champlain, workouts at the YMCA, worship at Burlington Friends Meetings, and greeting all manner of friends and strangers from his Bradley Street porch. His last months were spent in the care of the tireless staff of the Arbors at Shelburne, to whom the family would like to express their profound gratitude.

Jeff’s remains will be interred at Pleasant View Cemetery in Westford, Vt., close to the resting place of his parents. A celebration of his life will occur once the COVID-19 emergency has ceased. For details, please visit

Honor Jeff by admiring a favorite work of art, sharing a home-cooked meal, revisiting a tale from Greek mythology, catching a concert or swapping stories with friends over inexpensive white wine. Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you, and call your dad.

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