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Monday, March 23, 2009


Remembering Robert E. A. Lee

I had the privilege of attending "A Celebration of the Life of Robert Edward Alexander Lee" on Friday evening, March 6, 2009, at Bob's church, St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Baldwin, New York (Long Island). The evening began with a Hymn Festival (Bob loved hymns and singing) and ended with a Memorial Service. The Hymn Festival included hymns and reflections by family members. The Memorial Service included many remembrances. Only one of Bob's Lutheran communication colleagues spoke, Bill Jersey who was the director for "A Time for Burning." The other remembrances were all by family and friends and fellow members of St. Peter's Lutheran Church. I am deeply moved by all of the remembrances. Those by fellow church members were, perhaps, the most touching since they spoke of a man they knew from choir and Bible study who had treated them kindly. There was lots of Bob's favorite music from J. S. Bach.

One of Bob's daughters, Peg Harris, reflected that there were very few "Don'ts" in their family life. The only major "Don't" she remembered was "Don't get butter on the script!" which started as a real concern (Bob always seemed to have film scripts lying on the dining room table) but became a loving family code word.

More important were the family "Dos" - Do "Keep your air speed" (Bob was, after all, a WWII pilot), Do "Make the most it" and Do "Have an attitude of gratitude."

"Have an attitude of gratitude" was certainly the mood that pervaded the evening. On the cover of the bulletin was duplicated an original artwork piece that Bob commissioned for the North American Lutheran celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation (1967), a piece by artist Ben Shahn that proclaims "Life New Life." This, affirmed again and again through the evening, summed up Bob's attitude on life - to live life fully and be grateful for all of life's many blessings.

For more on Bob, see the wonderful obituary that was in the "New York Times" newspaper on March 7, 2009 - http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/us/08lee.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=%22Robert%20E.%20A.%20Lee%22&st=cse and the March 3, 2009 ELCA news release - http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx#&&a=4074 . I was honored to be quoted in the ELCA news release and more honored to have known Bob Lee.

There is more on Bob's books on his website http://www.realworldcomm.com/ and more on Bob's films on the Lutheran Film Associates website - http://www.lutheranfilm.org/ .

Bob's life can be summed up in one of his favorite J.S. Bach phrases - "Soli Deo Gloria" - "Only for the glory of God."