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Former Reynolds Superintendent H.B. Lee dies at age 91

by: Contributed photo Former Reynolds School District Superintendent H.B. Lee visits with students a few years ago at the school that bears his name, H.B. Lee Middle School.

Hauton Bransford Lee Jr., a longtime superintendent of the Reynolds School District and the namesake for H.B. Lee Middle School, died Thursday, Aug. 4, surrounded by family. He was 91.

Although he had to drop out of Sandy High School to support his family during the Great Depression, H.B. eventually earned his doctorate in education and had a long career as an educator from elementary school through the college level. He served as the Reynolds district's superintendent from 1961 to 1979 and then retired.

A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at Mt. Scott Church of God, 10603 S.E. Henderson St., Portland. A reception will follow the service.

H.B. was born Dec. 24, 1919, at a home near Frederick, Okla., to Hauton Sr. and Floise Lee, the second of six children. H.B. spent most of his childhood in the Sandy area. He dropped out of Sandy High and worked with his father digging maple burls.

H.B. met Orla Eva Hobson at Mt. Scott Church of God, and they were married for 68 years.

After getting married, H.B. earned his high school diploma at YMCA night school. He held various jobs, including with the Forest Service and as a licensed journeyman watchmaker. He attended Pacific Bible College, now Warner Pacific College, where he earned his ministerial diploma and later his bachelor's degree in theology.

H.B. was called to his first pastorate in St. Helens before completing his coursework. He took the pastorate while also taking classes at Portland State University and Lewis and Clark College and running his watch-repair business in Portland with Orla's help. He received his master's degree in education from Lewis and Clark in 1952.

H.B. taught at Washington Elementary School in Vernonia. He went into ministry again at a church in North Bend, but the pull of education was too strong, so H.B. moved to Laramie, Wyo., and received his doctorate in education.

H.B. taught at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., and then returned to Portland, where he became an associate professor and director of student teaching at Lewis and Clark. He then made his final career move to the Reynolds School District.

In his honor, Columbia View Middle School was renamed H.B. Lee Middle School in 1980. He visited the school twice in the past five years, said Andrea Watson, Reynolds district spokeswoman.

'During both visits, Mr. Lee had a positive and lasting impression on the students and staff,' she said. She also noted the school has a bronze plaque recognizing H.B.'s 'exemplary character and leadership … kindness, compassion and integrity.

'Dr. Lee was devoted to the fair treatment of all students and staff,' Watson said.

She added that during his tenure the district's enrollment doubled, the district merged with Rockwood School District and Reynolds High School was built.

Diane Goheen of Fairview taught at Columbia View during the 1970s and had H.B.'s daughter, Janet, as an eighth-grade student. Goheen recalled H.B. as a 'very kind, compassionate and generous' man who was 'very supportive.'

She added that 'he and his wife were just very, very nice people,' and in the district 'he was a good, honest leader.'

H.B.'s wife, children and church were the most important things to him. He was active in the church and served on committees and boards and as a greeter. When his daughter hung up his degrees and awards at his place, he put up a disclaimer: 'My kids did this, not me.'

Orla preceded him in death Jan. 30, 2010.

Survivors include his son, Leland Lee of Milwaukie; daughter, Janet Hargis of Happy Valley; brothers, Bill Lee of Portland and Robert D.W. 'Dan' Lee of Reno, Nev.; six grandchildren; and three great-grandsons.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the H.B. Lee Memorial Fund at Mt. Scott Church of God, 10603 S.E. Henderson St., Portland, 97266; or to Warner Pacific College, 2219 S.E. 68th Ave., Portland, 97215.

Sunnyside Little Chapel of the Chimes is handling arrangements.