For Immediate Release Contact: Sam Duvall
Tuesday, January 19, 2016 Phone: 334-481-2129
AFA MEMBER ALERT: IN MEMORIAM: Mr. Robert E. Lee, III
It is with a great deal of sadness that we inform you of the passing last night of Mr. Robert E. “Bob” Lee, III of Prattville, Alabama.
Mr. Lee was a longtime leader in the forestry community in Alabama. He served as President of the Alabama Forestry Association from 1982-83. In an article for Alabama Forests on the AFA’s 60th anniversary, Mr. Lee recalled how he came to be associated with forestry in Alabama. “My exposure to Alabama’s timber lands began in the early 1950s. As a forest entomologist with the USDA, I conducted research on pine bark beetles. While based in Texas, a Southern Pine beetle outbreak took me to other states, including northeast Alabama,” Mr. Lee noted.
“In 1954, there was a drought in the South that led to a terrible forest fire that burned several thousand acres in and around the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia. Fearful that beetle outbreaks would follow, Union Camp hired me, the second forest entomologist to be hired by industry. I was based in Savannah, where Union Camp had a paper mill. Gradually, I moved up the ladder until I was promoted to woodlands manager for the Alabama region and relocated to Prattville,” Mr. Lee wrote in the summer of 2009. Once he got here, Mr. Lee liked it and made Autauga County his home.
Concerning the bad fire outbreaks in the 1950s, Mr. Lee worked with the AFA and the State Forester to implement a program to allow landowners to voluntarily contribute 10-cents per acre to their ad valorem taxes for fire suppression, which helped mitigate the dangerous wild fire situation at that time.
Mr. Lee was instrumental in the creation of the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. He and a small delegation met with the AU Board of Trustees and convinced them of the need for a Forestry School, separate from the College of Agriculture. The new school was announced by the President of Auburn University at the AFA Annual Meeting in 1984.
Bob Lee was also involved in the hiring of John McMillan in 1983. John turned out to be the longest serving Executive Vice President of the AFA, passing the baton to current EVP Chris Isaacson in 2006.
John, who now serves as State Agriculture Commissioner, had this to say about his friend Bob:
“He was an outstanding leader in the Association and in the Alabama forestry community generally. Everybody who knew Bob and worked with him will tell you that he was always thinking and looking for ways to help make things better for the forestry community and just for people generally. He was definitely an idea person! Many of us who are his friends will miss him and his phone calls about things he saw that he felt strongly about. He was a great friend and will be missed by all who knew him.”
Current EVP Chris Isaacson agreed, stating: "Bob was a tireless worker for all things related to forestry. He was an outstanding leader and we will miss him and his periodic telephone calls to offer words of wisdom and support. Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family on this sad occasion." Photos: Above left, Mr. Bob Lee, right, Mr. Lee and turkey hunting buddy John McMillan.
Editor‘s Note: As of this writing, no obituary was available for Mr. Lee. Once we receive more information, we will forward it on to you either a blast email, or in AFA Newsroom. SD
Click here for his Obituary