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Marion Thomas Lee II, born 1939
Home Up Mary Elizabeth Hemings Butler Lee Brady-Atkins, born 1928 Patricia Hemings Butler Findley Lee Walker Marion Thomas Lee II, born 1939 Ida Hemings Butler Findley Lee

Mary Lee Brady, Ph.D.

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Marion was born in Pittsburgh on the eve of World War II that would shape the new racially integrated world in which he grew, studied and worked to successfully live.

Without family that called him "Bud" and generated cousins and siblings to be respected and friends in his generation, it is doubtful that he would have emerged to the success he achieved in business and private life.  Family in the truest meaning of the word required him daily to care about someone other than himself; and to do things that mattered to others whether deserving or not.  He was never excused from the mandate, often a challenge to "Love ye one another."  

Our view of him from the top to-date is that family matters most to him in the pursuit of goodness inherited from men and women born long before he was born.  We dare suggest that just about everything he has ever done (including love of wife Alice and son Marion III) inspired by the mandate (not religious ritual) handed down from his father, fathers' father and beyond "do this in memory of me."  It is inconceivable that Marion could have taken an interest in his life's work of helping others  without internalizing the ability to care about others and thus motivated to learn how to be useful.  His generation of men in the 1950s with African heritage backgrounds included a lot of believers like him who believed they could overcome the barriers and boulders baring them from pursuing goodness in the world of enterprise and technologies in the world around them. 

In my view from atop the sibling chain that generated Marion some ten years after my own birth, I never knew of a day, except perhaps Christmas and Easter, that his father Marion Thomas Lee I did not have some chore or task for Bud to do that helped him "muscle up" to manhood.  Like father, like son he had the challenges of cutting down trees, planting gardens, painting rooms and houses, hunting, fishing, repairing broken doors, shoveling coal and snow along with dozens of other matters that matter in the indoctrination of boys to respect labor even if they do not love it. 

Marion was born into a challenge to be the best that he could be long before his successful career learning to critique and sell devices that saved lives of people suffering from serious heart ailments.  His definition of success was not about how much money he earned or even a beautiful house and landed estate; but rather deep down in his heritage the cause of goodness was knowledge that "helping somebody" was the right way to help himself.

He had the distinct advantage of boys with fathers who literally drove them to be helpful everyday by doings chores and running errands for whoever and whatever deemed good and necessary.  Learning to labor like a man required fatherhood lessons in the matters that mattered at the time, whether in rain, snow or conditions sometimes pleasant like the mastering of a musical instrument.

Marion mastered the trumpet throughout his high school years at the prestigious Westinghouse High School, ... sufficiently for him to compete and earn a place in the University of Pittsburgh marching band in a city where competition mattered.  In fact, he grew up in an era when practice, practice, practice was the common theme for boys who would be good in learning and playing music. 

Marion's life story is part of a great musical stanza without ending so long as lessons are learned.

In the beginning of his sojourn into the world of earning a living, it was not enough to simply attend and graduate from Westinghouse High School and the University of Pittsburgh.  Marion had the challenges of graduate school wherein he earned a masters of business administration degree but also mandatory selective service requirement to give six years of his young life to the defense of the nation.  And, being Buddy, he did it all with a smile though sometimes wondering what the end results might be. 

His first professional job after college was in Gimbels' Department Store of Pittsburgh that had a lot of African-American older women customers up from the Pittsburgh Courier's Double V Campaign  Courier subscribers in the 1950s openly demanded department stores provide employment opportunities for enlightened and educated youth like Bud.  Prior to his era of youth employment, the only jobs available to Black youth regardless of education levels was that of busboys and dishwashers, janitorial workers and occasional elevator operators.  The faithful and loyal generation of consumers came to not only buy consumer goods but more importantly to encourage and see smiling young Black men and women nicely dressed and polite as never seen before in new opportunities long denied.

Bud learned that selling consumer goods required good manners and attention to even the most minute details important to both the customers and employers.  He kept smiling even in graduate school where a Pitt professor assured him that an MBA added to his undergraduate business degree would not matter because businesses did not African-Americans to ever become executives where such knowledge mattered.  But, Bud had the distinct advantage of a father and others who assured him that "nothing beats a failure but a try"  

He applied and received for a professional job with Pfizer Pharmaceutical Corporation where he successfully learned to learn and value the health industry that helped people who needed them.  In his view then and now the industry of medical services was much larger than the unenlightened could ever imagine without education and training to be part of it. 

After years of successfully marketing pharmaceutical products he moved to Edwards Life-sciences for the remaining experiences in his life career of helping himself by helping others.

 

 

 

 

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