Alvin Ralph Lee was born on May 5, 1934 in Gary, Indiana. He was the seventh of thirteen children born to Robert E. Lee and Emma Jenkins Lee. Family gatherings were always fun and very instructive. Growing up in this close-knit and loving family, he was affectionately nicknamed, Al.
Alvin began his Christian Service under the pastorate of his uncle, Rev. William H. Thomas, Sr. at Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Gary. Later in life Alvin and Bessie joined Vernon Park Church of God and recently became members of The Connection Community Church Chicago.
Following graduation from Roosevelt High School in 1952, and with outstanding stats as “the Guard from Gary”. Al continued his education with an athletic scholarship at Michigan State University (MSU). His prowess on the football field garnered him a spot on the championship team that brought many victories to MSU: 1953 National Collegiate Football Champions, 1953-1954 Big Ten Conference and Rose Bowl Collegiate Football Champions, and Captain, Special Teams in the 1956 Rose Bowl. Al understood work –life balance and was not only a dedicated player on the football field but an exceptional student as well. In his third year, he became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. where he could be of service to others off the football field. Proudly in 956, he graduated with a degree in Economics, which led him to the numerous business and corporate relationships he would later forge in life.
With a desire to serve, he enlisted in the United States Army in 1957 and quickly rose to the rank of Lieutenant. Discipline and dedication became his mantra that enabled him to receive many honors and serve on many boards such as a member of the Vice President of the United States’ Committee on Youth Motivation; Chairman, The Executive Program, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He also served as Treasurer, Water Tower Place Associates, Urban Investment and development Company; Alumni Board, Executive Program, University of Chicago; Advisor to the President, University of Illinois; Member, Mortgage Banking Board, State of Illinois; and Board Member, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
Always the consummate professional, Al wanted to do more and be more so he furthered his education by enrolling in the Division of Technical Institute, Purdue University; Executive Management Program, Pennsylvania State University; General Motors’ Dealer Development Program; and the Ford Motor Company Dealer Training Program. To complete his educational journey, he attended the Executive Program, Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago and received his MBA degree from The University of Chicago.
Al’s executive training in the automotive industry allowed him to use his leadership skills at numerous dealerships including, Bob Neal Pontiac-Toyota, Inc., Bonnie Brook Sales, Inc., where he was the sole-owner, dealer and president, and established the dealership as a new Illinois corporation where he trained six former employees who became minority Ford dealers. He later operated Chatham Ridge Ford, Inc., Bear County Ford; Landmark Ford, Inc.; Marina Ford, Inc.; Steel City Ford; and he served as a Dealer Principal of Prestige Ford Sales and Service.
His call to serve others continued through his political work with mayor Harold Washington, Eugene Sawyer and the Eighth Ward Regular Democratic Organization. In his later years, he served as Deputy Comptroller of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County where his degree in Economics came in handy as he assisted the Comptroller with all financial aspects of the District’s operations. As a former dealer/operator, Al helped save the County thousands of dollars as he administered the District’s Fleet Management Program. After retiring, Al spent his days at the South Side Y where he worked tirelessly to stay healthy and return to the glory of his football days.
On Tuesday, January 1, 2019, Alvin made his transition. Words are forever evolving to describe the loss. He leaves to cherish his memory to his devoted wife, Bessie; two sons: Alvin Marc Lee (Pamela) and Davide Lee (Lisa); four grandchildren: Anthony, Aaron, Faith and Solomon; three great-grandchildren: Theodore, Vivian and Augustus; six siblings: James (Marsha), Shirley (James), Irma, Yvonne (Charles), Lawrence (Willa) and Horace; three nieces: Niki D’Hana, Anna Charles, Valarie; and two nephews: Eric and Jasen along with a host of other loving relatives and friends.
Throughout his life, Alvin fought the Good Fight not only for himself but also for the benefits of others. The Bible says “To whom much is given, much is required” and so during his lifetime, Alvin tried to help as many people as he could help. He also was blessed to have so many other support him and his dreams; especially, Mr. Marshall Field, Ford Motor Company, Mr. John Stroger, Jr., Mr. Frank Horton, Mrs. Eveline Horton, Mr. Mezell Williams and Mrs. Sandra Williams. May God bless Alvin, his family and his friends.
Chicago, IL 60649