Deceased October 1, 2018
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Tommy Lee died Oct. 1. Tommy and his wife, Hideko, moved from Cape Town, South Africa, to a retirement community apartment in Seattle some years previously.
Tommy traveled to Amherst in summer 1947 from Hong Kong, first by a 17-day voyage across the Pacific and then by train to New York. His father and Charlie Cole were graduates of the class of ’27 and were both DKEs. So Tommy became a DKE “among all those big football players.” English 101 was not his thing, and the required math-science course didn’t fare much better in his view. But Tommy had a better recollection of Baird (aside from English 101), Latham, Packard and Whicher and, in hindsight years later, of his Amherst education in general.
After Amherst, Tommy served two years with the U.S. Army, taught for 17 years, made some good real estate investments in Hong Kong and found himself in England, where he met and married Hideko. They had no children. Hideko is Japanese. Neither Tommy nor Hideko could speak the other’s native tongue, but English worked for both. They moved to Cape Town and settled into an enjoyable lifestyle, living near the docks and bookstores where global news was available. At some point the South African government decided to gather the assets of “foreigners” so there would be funds on hand to pay for their last years’ needs. This irritated Tommy, and he returned to Seattle.
After much back and forth with U.S. bureaucracy, he also managed to secure Hideko’s admission to the States. She probably has now returned to Japan, where she has relatives.
Tommy is remembered as a well-mannered, friendly classmate. He would be amazed and pleased at the number of Asian students in attendance today.
Everett E. Clark ’51, with assistance from John Kendall ’51