Brother James Joseph Lee, SJ, who served in the Jesuit missions of Alaska and Zambia, died November 19, 2020, at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California. He was 95 years of age and had been a Jesuit Brother for 43 years.
Br. Lee was born in Everett, Washington, on June 22, 1925, where he attended local schools. During World War II, he served in the South Pacific in a Seabee unit, providing potable water to military camps. For many years he worked in construction jobs in the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska, where he was employed in building the Alaska Pipeline.
In the 1970s, he worked as a maintenance man at the Jesuit-run St. Mary’s School in St. Mary’s, Alaska, where he discerned a calling to the religious life. Br. Lee entered the Jesuit novitiate in Portland, Oregon, on January 15, 1977, at the age of 51. Upon completion of his novitiate training in 1979, he returned to St. Mary’s, serving as director of maintenance. He also assisted in the building of a church and residence on Little Diomede Island.
In 1985 Br. Lee was assigned to the Loyola Renewal Center in Portland, Oregon, where he directed the maintenance of a busy retreat house. In 1987, he did a year of spiritual training at Gonzaga University, before embarking on an assignment in the Oregon Province’s mission in Zambia. Br. Lee was in charge of maintenance at the Canisius Secondary School in Chisekesi, Zambia, until 1992. Returning to the U.S., he spent the next year in Seattle before taking over house administration at the Jesuit retirement community in Spokane. He moved to Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California, in April 2017 for a ministry of prayer.
Br. Lee is survived by nieces Diane Williams and Susan Wester, both of Big Fork, Montana.
Funeral Masses at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center are currently not open to the public because of Covid-19 restrictions. Interment will be at the Mount St. Michael’s Cemetery in Spokane. To view Br. Lee’s livestreamed funeral Mass, click here.