UMSL Remembers Des Lee
Philanthropist and cherished friend of the University of Missouri–St. Louis E. Desmond "Des" Lee once envisioned a metropolitan region where under-served children would learn math and science using the newest educational tools. Children from across the St. Louis area would study art, theater and music from the masters, and teachers would employ the best available technology to shape young minds.

When he died Tuesday (Jan. 12, 2010) at the age of 92, Lee had long ago turned that vision into reality.

Launched in 1996, the Des Lee Collaborative Vision is a unique network of endowed professors (31 at UMSL, 37 in all) who work with the St. Louis area's top cultural, scientific and civic institutions to enrich the lives of thousands of children. National and international scholars were recruited to the DLCV, and they fulfill their appointments with research, teaching and community outreach.

All of that, according to UMSL Chancellor Tom George, is thanks to Lee's compassion, generosity and dream.

"The University of Missouri of Missouri–St. Louis has lost a dear friend and a most important member of our family," George said. "The generous contributions of Des and Mary Ann Lee, their family and friends have made the world we live in a better place."

A highly successful businessman, Lee turned to philanthropy when he retired in 1993. Family, friends and colleagues say he delighted in the role.

Lee had a well-earned reputation for being insatiably curious and passionate about education in all its forms. He regularly visited DLCV professors; attended music classes offered by members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra for middle-school students; and took his philosophy of cooperation to every corner of the region.

One friend recalled a time when Lee dropped by a science enrichment class at UMSL for students from Vashon, University City and McCluer North high schools. The students had built go-carts and were conducting speed and acceleration experiments. Lee quickly volunteered to be a test driver. He folded his tall frame into one of the tiny vehicles. Flying around the track behind the Mark Twain Athletic & Fitness Center, Lee thrilled the students and teachers who were on hand.
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