- Last Updated on 08:04 AM 12/04/13
Rosa Belle Moon Lee, 88, entered into eternal rest, peacefully at her home in Albemarle County on Nov. 28, 2013. Mrs. Lee was a teacher for over 30 years. She was a beloved mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, sister, aunt, niece and friend. She was affectionately called Momma or Aunt Rose by her close friends and family. Her career and life touched the lives of so many people in her community.
Mrs. Lee was a retired elementary school teacher. In 1946, she began her professional career shortly after graduating from Fort Valley State College with a B.S. in home economics. At Fort Valley she met and later married her husband, Dr. Otis L. Lee Sr., a marriage that lasted 63 years. Her first teaching position was in Wilsonville, Ga. teaching combined grades first through sixth.
In 1949, her family moved from Nelson County, Ga. to Richmond. While in Richmond, Mrs. Lee taught elementary school in Fredericksburg.
For several years she commuted between Richmond and Fredericksburg. In June 1960, Mrs. Lee was hired as an area cafeteria manager for the Richmond Public School System. She was responsible for managing the food service operations for three elementary schools in her district.
However, eager to return to the classroom, she was hired by Paul H. Cale, superintendent of schools for the Albemarle County School System at the time, to teach third grade at Benjamin Franklin Yancey Elementary School in Esmont, located in southern Albemarle County, which first opened in Sept. 1960.
Mrs. Lee taught at Yancey for more than four years before the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County began desegregating their public schools. After desegregation, Mrs. Lee taught at Stone Robinson Elementary School in Shadwell, a rural community located a few miles east of Charlottesville. She taught at Stone Robinson until her retirement in 1984. Mrs. Lee completed her professional certifications at Virginia State University and the University of Virginia.
During her retirement, Mrs. Lee devoted much of her time to sculpturing and knitting. She was also an avid gardener and was known by her immediate family as the family member with the “green thumb.” She grew plants year-round, cultivating many varieties until her health declined. In addition, Mrs. Lee and Dr. Lee enjoyed traveling throughout the United States and Europe.
While living in Richmond, Mrs. Lee was a faithful member of Ebenezer Baptist Church. In Charlottesville, she was a member of the Mount Zion First African Baptist Church for over 53 years, joining the church shortly after moving to Charlottesville in 1960. In 1998, Mrs. Lee and her husband established and endowed the Otis Leonard Lee and Rosa Moon Lee Educational Scholarship Trust Fund at Mount Zion, a fund that awards college scholarships to high school graduates who are members of the church.
Mrs. Lee was a past Worthy Matron of the O.E.S. Monticello Chapter # 43 of the Order of the Eastern Star of VA PHA, Prince Hall Affiliation and a member of the local Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. In 1999, Mrs. Lee co-founded The FitzGerald Company, a real estate management and investment company, successor to the Estate of Dr. Otis L. Lee Sr.
Mrs. Lee was admired in the family for her graciousness, pleasant disposition and style of dress. Her mantra, which was repeated over and over again to her family, was “to be civil and do the right thing.” Mrs. Lee was a kind and gentle woman. She often referred to herself as “a conservative country girl from South Boston.”
Rosa Belle Moon Lee was born on March 17, 1925, to the late Patrick Henry Moon and Helen Wilson Penick Moon of South Boston. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Dr. Otis L. Lee Sr. She also was preceded in death by her brother, Patrick Henry Moon Jr.; her two sisters, Margaret Howerton Wynn of Greensboro, N.C., and Louise D. Johnson of New Rochelle, N.Y.; and a dear and close cousin, Willnette Elam Parker, of Richmond.
Mrs. Lee is survived by her son, Otis L. Lee Jr., Esq., and his wife, Dr. Michelle Palmer Lee, of Earlysville; two grandsons, Dr. Otis L. Lee III (April Morris Lee) of Windsor Mill, Md., Justin Patrick Palmer Lee Esq. of Santiago, Chile; and three great grandchildren, Danielle, Ethan and Ariele Lee.
Other surviving family members are nieces and nephews of the Robert L. and Margaret H. Wynn family: Dr. Margaret Lorraine Dancy (Joseph) of Charlotte, N.C., Helena McIntosh (Robert Thomas), White Plains, N.Y., the Rev. Elizabeth Clausell (George) of Tuskegee, Ala. and Robert L. Wynn, Esq. (Millie) of Madison, Wis.; a surviving nephew’s son of the Wilbert H. and Louise D. Johnson family: Enaharo Akin Johnson of New Rochelle, N.Y.; surviving nieces and nephews of the Willie and Dilo Boles family: Beryl Wendell of East Orange, N.J., Daryl Boles and Jeryl Boles of Fitzgerald, Ga.; surviving nieces and nephews from the James Byrd family; surviving nieces and nephews members of the Wilcox family: Jacqueline Jones of Washington D.C., Emily Jean McDuffie (Roosevelt) of Fitzgerald, Ga., Walter and Oscar Wilcox of Opalocka, Fla., and Tobytha Wilcox of Virginia Beach; surviving members of the Willie and Catherine Graham family: Arthur Davis (Vivian) of Albion, Mich., Barbara Moore, Dilo Sessions, Patricia Graham, Willie Graham, Billy Charles Graham, Christopher Don Graham and Otis L. Graham of Lake City Fla.; and surviving members of the Willie Robert Lee family, Christopher Don Lee of Orlando, Fla.
The Lee family extends special thanks to Drs. Kenneth Ballew, Robert S. Gibson, Eugene Barrett and Wayne Remington; and to caregivers Sara Witt, Maude Ragland, Janice Henson, Whitney Briggs, Carol Watson, Kathrine Lyon, Christine Day, Florence Tibbs and Debbie Willing, who so ably and tenderly cared for Mrs. Lee during her time of illness.
The Lee family also extends a special thanks to Fred Haar of Senior Helpers and to the Hospice of the Piedmont.
The funeral services will be held on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, at 11 a.m. at the Mount Zion First African Baptist Church, 105 Lankford Avenue, Charlottesville.
Visitation will be held at the church one hour prior to the funeral service. Dr. Alvin Edwards, senior pastor, and the Rev. Dr. Levy M. Armwood Jr. will officiate. Interment will follow the funeral service at Monticello Memorial Gardens.
In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to the Otis Leonard Lee and Rosa Moon Lee Educational Scholarship Trust Fund at Mount Zion First African Baptist Church, Charlottesville.
Friends and family may send memories and condolences to the family at www.hillandwood.com.
Hill & Wood Funeral Services are assisting the family with arrangements.