Kenneth (Ken) Allan Lee, 74, of North Myrtle Beach, SC (formerly of Oliver Springs) passed away Sunday June 2nd.
Everyone has a story, and all stories have a beginning – and an ending. The story of Kenneth (Ken) Allan Lee began on August 6, 1945 which is the same day that the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Ken was born at Harriman Hospital and raised in the rural East Tennessee town of Oliver Springs. As was typical of that era, Ken’s parents married young and began their family early. The family did not stray from their East Tennessee roots as his father, Gene, was raised in the Wheat Community and his mother, Mattie Lou (Borum) Lee, was raised in the heart of Oliver Springs. Ken grew up in a loving Christian family and attended Oliver Springs schools, graduating from high school in 1963, and furthering his education at the University of Tennessee. Because of his dad’s occupation (automobile dealer), he was privileged (and probably envied) to be able to drive brand new vehicles; and also because of his dad’s occupation, there was a high expectation to keep the vehicles spotless — a trait that carried over into adulthood. Initially, Ken was an only child but the family grew and he became a big brother to sisters Joy and Lisa after the untimely deaths of their parents when they were young girls.
Ken had a captivating, magnetic personality which made him a natural sales person. It has often been stated that he could “sell snow to an Eskimo”. Ken always had a sharp mind and love for music and began his career in the entertainment industry as a music promoter. He relocated to Atlanta, and later to Houston, traveling extensively throughout the United States. His successful career spanned several decades with him working for then industry giants ABC Records and Robert Colin Sigwood (RSO) Industries. His clientele included many well-known artists including Andy Gibb and the Bee Gees; Chaka Khan; Rufus Thomas; 10,000 Maniacs; Eric Clapton; B. B. King; and KC & the Sunshine Band. Whenever a record he was promoting obtained sales of one million dollars, he was awarded a gold album. Over the span of his career, he received several of these due to his sales accomplishments.
Big city life was not the place to raise a family so, after having children, a return was imminent to East Tennessee to raise children in the wholesome environment of the South. Ken continued his interest in music by working as an advertising executive for Knoxville area radio stations.
Ken loved the mountains of East Tennessee but also had a passion for the ocean and had always dreamed of living there. He began to experience some health-related issues with his vision and, after having to give up driving, decided to make the dream come true by moving to the beach. For the past 20+ years, Ken resided in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where he was better able to maintain his independence. For many years, he worked as a sales associate at Wolf Creek Gallery and was thrilled when someone from his hometown dropped in. About 6 years ago, Ken met and married Donna Toney Lee. As his sight continued to decline, he qualified for a guide dog through Leader Dogs for the Blind and obtained his beloved black Lab, Chloe. As his health continued to decline, Donna was not only the love of his life but his devoted and loving caregiver who gave unselfishly of her time and energy. In the past couple of years, his independence was limited due to the debilitating effects of a stroke but his spirit never wavered, his attitude remained optimistic, and he never complained.
On Sunday, June 2nd, Ken’s earthly story came to an end surrounded by his loving family. Relatives that preceded Ken in death include his father, Gene Lee; maternal grandparents, Roy and Mattie Ann Borum; paternal grandparents, Fred Lee, and Mack and Marjorie Barger; and several aunts, uncles and cousins. Relatives who remain behind to mourn his earthly passing while celebrating his earthly life and Heaven homegoing include his wife, Donna; his mother, Mattie Lou Lee of Oliver Springs; his siblings, Joy Doyle of Charlestown, West Virginia, and Lisa Brown (Larry) of Oliver Springs; his daughter, Jennifer Lee Hart of Oak Ridge; sons Tony Lee of Knoxville and Corey Lee of Oak Ridge; stepson, Adam Toney (Joy) of Hendersonville, NC; aunts, Edna Acuff of Oak Ridge and Geraldine Prewitt (Chuck) of Centerville, TN; uncles, JW Lee of Lafollette and Charles Ed Lee of Rockwood; grandchildren Jackson, Loren and Matti Hart; and Brennon Lee all of Oak Ridge; and the mother of his first two children, Martha Lee of Oak Ridge. He will also be missed by special long-time Knoxville friends Bill Hays and Steve and Debbie Fritts; special friend, Barbara Brittian of Myrtle Beach; his faithful guide dog, Chloe Bear Lee; and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
His family will miss his beautiful blue eyes, his broad happy smile that would light up any room, and his passion for the Tennessee Volunteers. Although his earthly presence will be missed, we walk by faith that this is not the end because of our belief. Because of Ken’s faith, he is looking forward to the fulfillment of John 5:28-29 and Isaiah 35:5, which is a guarantee he will be resurrected and see again.
A receiving of friends will be held on Thursday, June 6, 2019 at Premier Sharp Funeral Home in Oliver Springs, Tennessee from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. A memorial service will be conducted at 7:30 pm officiated by his childhood friend, Rev. Steve McDonald. An additional memorial service will be held in Myrtle Beach, SC. on June 22, 2019 at Kingdom Hall of Jehovah Witness. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to an organization that Ken thought highly of: Leader Dogs for the Blind, 10395 Rochester Road, Rochester, Michigan 48307-3115.
Premier Sharp Funeral Home of Oliver Springs in charge of arrangements.