Published in The Washington Post on June 25, 2015
ELLA THEOPHIA HICKS LEE 95
Ella Theophia Hicks Lee, beloved wife, mother, grandmother
and great-grandmother and friend died June 1, 2015, at the age
Theophia was born in Sunderland, Calvert County, Maryland on
February 5, 1920. She graduated valedictorian of her Cardoza High School class in
1938; she then attended Hampton Institute, graduating in 1942.
Following her marriage in 1943 to Philip F. Lee, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen,
she began working at the Tuskegee Moton Airfield as secretary to the Plant Engineer.
After their first child was born in 1946 they moved to Portsmouth, Virginia and then to
Baltimore, Maryland. In 1950 they moved to Houston. In 1955 Theophia began working in
the Houston Independent School District and later became the first black secretary to
work in the main administration building. Theophia was tireless in her support of her
husband's leadership roles with the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and the Hampton Alumni
Association. In 1971 the Lees moved back to Washington, D.C. and in 1973 she became
the administrative assistant to the budget director at Howard University Hospital , a
position she maintained until her retirement in June of 1985.
Theophia's greatest love was her family and she was most proud of raising four sons
producing an artist, an attorney, an attorney/college administrator and a dentist. She
loved to cook, dance, collect photographs, and discuss history and current events. Among
the food items she especially enjoyed were shrimp, clam chowder, and fried fish.
Theophia was an extraordinary secretary known for her shorthand, elegant penmanship
and organizational skills. Theophia was devoted to the Hampton Alumni Association and
the East Coast Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen where she became the first female
member. She and Phil helped organize and attend as many of their events as they could.
They loved to visit their Hampton and Tuskegee Airmen friends all over the country. In
1985 she received the Merit Award from the National Hampton Alumni Association. The
nation's top civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal was bestowed on her in 2007
for her role with the Tuskegee Airmen 1943-46; this is the most distinguished award
bestowed by the U.S. Congress.
Theophia was preceded in death by her parents, William Emery Hicks, and Gertrude
Lucille Gray Hicks; her husband of 51 years, Philip Fergusson Lee; and her eldest son,
Philip Fergusson Lee II; Left to cherish her memory and legacy are her 100 year old aunt
Audrey Gray Robinson; her devoted sister Mildred Eileen Hicks Robinson; her three
loving sons Andre Wendell Lee, attorney Elwyn Cornelius Lee (Congresswoman Sheila
Jackson Lee) and Dr. Fredric Osborne Lee; five grandchildren, Carlos William Lee,
Felipe Raul Alejandro Lee (Daylene Hunte), Erica Shelwyn Lee Carter (Roy Lee Carter
Jr.), Jason Cornelius Bennett Lee, and Whitney Alexandra Lee; three great grandchildren,
Daniel Philip Fergusson Lee, Ellison Bennett Carter and Roy Lee Carter Jr.; five
nephews and nieces, Gerald Robinson, Gregory Robinson, Arthur E. Lee, Jr., Josephine
Lee Shuler, and Mona Lee Scott, Gerald Robinson, and Gregory Robinson; a host of
cousins, other relatives and very special friends.
A service will be held at Dunbarton Chapel, 2900 Van Ness in Washington, D. C. on June
27 at noon. Visitation is at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers send gifts to the Philip F. Lee II scholarship, Admin. Bldg. Room 220,
Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, 23668.
Arrangements by McGuire Funeral Services, 7400 Georgia Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C.
20012 - 202-882-6000. Arrangements by McGuire Funeral Services, 7400 Georgia Ave.,
N.W. Washington, D.C. 20012 - 202-882-6000.
McGuire Funeral Service, Inc.
7400 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20012