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Lee, Kenneth B., 1922-2010


biographical statement

Kenneth B. Lee was born in Nauvoo, Pennsylvania, and was raised in Wellsboro and Forksville. Lee began his education in a one-room schoolhouse and graduated from Elkland Township Vocational High School. He attended Pennsylvania State University, but transferred to Mansfield State University in 1941. In 1942, at the age of 19, Lee enlisted in the United States Air Force. He was trained in Miami Beach, Rock Island, IL, San Antonio, TX and Cuero, TX and graduated in April 1944. On leave following his graduation, he married Marjorie Cole Lee and immediately afterwards, travelled to Liberal, KS, Mountain Home, ID and Topeka, KS for more training. Finally, he was given an over-seas assignment to report to Cerignola, Italy with the 455th Bomb Group, 743rd Squadron of the 15th Air Force where he flew 6 missions on the B-24. Upon returning to the United States, Lee completed his college education at Mansfield, graduating in 1948. He then entered Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle Pennsylvania, graduating in 1950. Lee served as a District Attorney for 2 years and then ran for a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1956. Very soon after being elected to the House in 1956, Lee was elected to the leadership position of majority, an occurrence which he describes as “a fluke, if not a full blown miracle,” (p. 12; Folder 6) rising to the position after helping Chick Agnew change the rules which resulted in elections for leadership by secret ballot. Agnew won, but died only 2 short months later. After his replacement, Al Johnson, went to Congress in November, Lee won the election following a long drawn out battle with 6 ballots. Citing the job as Majority Leader as “probably the most stressful job I think I’ve ever had in my life,” (p. 10, Oral History) Lee served in that capacity from 1963-1964, as Minority Leader from 1965-1966 and from 1969-1972. He served as Speaker of the House from 1967-1968 and from 1973-1974. During his tenure, Lee established the House Ethics Committee and the nation’s first Legislative Date Processing Center. He served under 5 governors: George Leader, David Lawrence, William Scranton, Raymond Shafer and Milton Shapp. His House committee membership includes Game and Conservation, Highways, Law and Order, Rules (Chairman, 1963-1964) and Townships. In 1973, Lee turned his attention to running for Lieutenant Governor with Drew Lewis running for Governor. This race was unsuccessful because Watergate was in the nation’s attention, and “nobody was voting for Republicans in 1974,” (p. 26, Folder 6). After serving in the House, Lee returned to his career as a practicing attorney in Sullivan County and then retired. His son, Kenneth E. Lee served as a Representative from Wyoming County from 1989-1994.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Papers of Kenneth B. Lee, 1957-1974

Identifier: 2008.002
Scope and Contents This collection includes information mainly from the 1974 Election for Lieutenant Governor, but it is a window into a time period that is largely undocumented in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives. The personal reminisces of Kenneth B. Lee (folder 6) is an invaluable resource providing the researcher with Lee’s perspectives on his military service, legislative career and events that he witnessed such as Scranton’s experiences during the Unemployment Compensation Battle, and...
Dates: 1957 - 1974; Acquisition: 04/01/2010