Remembering Ms. Lee

    In the wake of last Wednesday’s tragic event, we believe it is important for the Grace community to come together and remember the life of Ms. Lee and the irreplaceable impact she had on the students and faculty both at the high school and grade school campuses. Below are the positive memories that faculty and students have shared about Ms. Lee and the influence she had on them. We are hoping to hear stories from you about Ms. Lee and her life. If you have any memories of her, or just want to say something nice, we encourage you to leave a comment.

    *A GoFundMe page has been established to help provide for the education and other critical needs, such as the medical coverage, of her two children Sasha and Hunter.

     

    An Anonymous 11th Grade Student

    I had known Elizabeth since I was in early childhood at Grace. Her daughter, Sasha, was in my sister’s grade and so I saw her periodically around school. I didn’t know her well, but that did not prevent her from sharing her warmth and kindness with me. Whether it was in first grade or eleventh grade, my day was always lightened by her presence. She worked tirelessly for our community, and treated us like her own family. It is important that we honor and celebrate all that she did for our school. She embodied what Grace Church School stands for.

     

    Dana Foote, High School Student & Family Coordinator

    I will never forget the morning of September 11th, 2001.  Elizabeth was standing with me and two other GCS parents just outside the steps of the 86 door.  It was about half after 8 o’clock in the morning and we were relishing in the perfectly blue September sky. We were laughing, sharing thoughts on life, parenting, and … a very loud sound of a low flying plane came overhead–and, soon after that, we realized together that our city and our country was in serious danger.  Elizabeth would often remind me of standing there together that day — and those moments engraved a uniquely indelible corner of our hearts for years to come.  That sad September day was a time that Grace came together as a community.  That was a time when we, as a Grace family, needed each other – when we couldn’t make sense of what was happening in the world around us.  We held tight to each other.  Now, with the loss of Elizabeth Lee, we are faced with an excruciatingly painful time where we will come together again, as a Grace Family, and we will lift each other through a heartbreaking time.  In doing so, we honor the life of our friend, our fellow parent and dear colleague, Elizabeth Lee, who was the most generous, kind and gentle soul.

    In September of 2002, about a year after the 9/11 events, my Dad passed away.  I was at home just after his funeral feeling lost, sad and alone. I was in my pajamas, I was tired, and wanted to go to bed. My doorbell rang.  My doorman said “Elizabeth is here for you”. She didn’t tell me she was coming, she just came over.  She brought me a dish of food–and sat with me on my couch.  She held my hand after losing my father.  I will never forget this.  Elizabeth lifted me that night and brought comfort to my aching heart.  All i can imagine is that Elizabeth is doing just that, right now, for all of us.  She is holding ALL of our hands–from another shore–and wanting us to know she is at peace now and that our beautiful memories of her will remain with us all, evermore.

     

    An Anonymous 12th Grade Student
    Elizabeth was a caring and sweet woman who I had known for 16 years. Sasha’s brother, Hunter was in my sister’s grade, so my parents were mutual class parents and had a good relationship. They were just as shocked to hear the news as I. She always had a smile on her face and would often say “hi” to me. Whether it was a quick hello, working at the front desk, or at the middle school, her presence was always felt. My dad told me that she was so “kind, genuine, and innocent.”

     

    Ms. Laurence, Dean of Student Life

    Elizabeth has always had an ethereal presence in my mind. I first met her when Hunter was in my 3rd grade French class and I remember being struck by her perfect French, her delicate beauty and how sincerely she always gave me her full attention whenever we spoke. Elizabeth had an uncanny ability to connect with people; her easy smile, sweetness, curiosity, and interest in others were so genuine.  If I complimented Elizabeth on her fashionable clothes, she was often quick to credit Sasha’s influence, but we all knew that Elizabeth herself had an intuitive sense of style that went beyond simply being a terrific dresser. She made us all feel loved, always peppering her conversations with “honey” and “sweetie,” and I know we will all do the same for her beloved children in the days and years to come.

     

    Reverend Hummell, Chaplain

    As Ms. Lee was settling into her new office at the High School she popped into my office, and said, “I’m just trying to get some ideas of how to decorate, and whenever I come to your office, I feel just so comfortable.” Then she asked if I could give her some ideas.  I told her that I always use indirect lighting, as it seems more chill than the overhead fluorescent bulbs–and it hides the grey hairs.  I also said that having a few pillows for students to sit on, fidget toys and candy also go a long way.  She then grabbed my rubik’s cube and tried to solve it.  When she gave up halfway, I tried to solve it as well.  After a few minutes, both of us gave up on the cube.  She looked at me, and said, “I like the indirect lighting, and comfy spots for others to sit.”  I said, “That cube gave me more grey hairs, which is why I keep the overhead lights off.”  Then we both agreed that candy always works, and spent the next 10 minutes getting Zen from some York Peppermint Patties.  

     

    4 Responses to Remembering Ms. Lee

    1. Robert Coe says:

      My heart goes out to Elizabeth’s children and the entire grace church school community.

    2. Anonymous says:

      I played sports with Sasha and I remember Ms. Lee was always in the bleachers cheering our team on. She was always so sweet. Every day that I saw her she always had the brightest smile and asked me how I was doing. Her small acts of kindness towards me went a long way.

    3. tnichols says:

      Elizabeth was exceptionally kind. When you work with people for a long time, even the closest of colleagues and friends sometimes bicker or get irritated, but not Elizabeth. In the four years I worked with her, she treated everyone with a rare gentleness and positivity.

      When Elizabeth worked in the Development Office, she and I were often the first people on the second floor each morning. We used to chat every day about the littlest things – weekend plans, a show one of us saw, about each our kids – never anything monumental. When she moved to the front desk at 86 last year, I found myself loitering near the desk before drop-off many days. This year I stopped by her office whenever I was at the high school campus just to see what was new.

      Those chats were never about anything that important, except all the little details that make a life unique. I am grateful for her friendship and already miss those little chats.

    4. Leonor Lee says:

      Elizabeth was (…it is hard to used past tense here) my sister-in-law. Since we were family in relatively close proximity, we got together with her family on holidays and vacations more often than we were able to with other relatives. On numerous occasions we joined them on Long Island at a beach cottage, or their apartment in the city, or they came to see us in Virginia, the beach and mountains of NC, or hiking in to a cabin in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia. Some of my favorite times with her are when we were cooking together for the next upcoming meal, a spread to fill the hungry bellies of 10 or more people depending on who else was coming over. We would turn up the music and sing loudly and dance around the room while getting things ready. There is another memory with life threatening tones, when we found ourselves, spouses, and children including babies, in the middle of the woods at a cabin and everyone was getting seriously sick from accidentally drinking bad water. You know the saying, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Elizabeth, my oldest daughter, and I had a moment when we all realized that if we didn’t get the family out of the woods, we were going to die there. We packed everyone up: sleeping bags, clothes, uneaten food, trash, babies, and began the slow hike up the side of this mountain to where our vehicles were parked. I was carrying so much (heavily loaded backpack, two bags of groceries in each hand, a bag of trash balanced between my head and the backpack, with my 4-5 year old grandson holding my little finger and encouraging him with every step) that at the steepest point I counted 12 steps and a rest, 12 steps and a rest, etc… But I will never forget that moment when the three healthiest, Elizabeth, Susanne, and I, looked into each other’s faces with determination that we had to get the family out. She was a strong, hard working, gracious, loving, caring, creative, sophisticated yet down to earth Sweetie that made me (and everyone) feel special. Her life was a beacon of light. “We love you, Elizabeth!”

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