Paul Hartmann Lee

Date of Birth

April 1, 1916

Date of Death

March 6, 2011

City of Death

Santa Barbara

April 1, 1916 – March 6, 2011

Paul Lee’s 94 years, from April 1, 1916 to March 6, 2011 spanned almost a century of this country’s history. He was one of those particularly creative, principled, intelligent and inventive Americans who had the good fortune to live through and be instrumental in the development of many significant events and inventions that defined the 20th century.

Paul attended Exeter and Harvard University. He later met and worked with Howard Aiken(developer of the first electronic digital computer), Din Land (founder of Polaroid Corporation), Bob Woodward (Nobel prize winner for the synthesis of quinine and chlorophyll), Norbert Wiener (MIT specialist on optical signal to noise problems), Harold Edgerton (MIT expert on high-speed flash and strobe lights). He was there at the birth of the nuclear age with Robert Oppenheimer (Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory), Dave Gurinsky (nuclear pile designer, Brookhaven Chemistry Department Chair), and Enrico Fermi (Manhattan Project). Paul’s association with the CIA brought him in close contact with Admiral Hyman Rickover(Father of the Nuclear Navy), Admiral Luis de Florez (founder of the Flight Safety Foundation), Wernher von Braun (Redstone Arsenal) and Edward Teller (Father of the Hydrogen Bomb).

Paul’s experiences spread through many venues including: Harvard College Physics Department, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Biology Department, Polaroid Corporation, Brookhaven National Laboratories, and in the CIA where he provided morning briefings to President Truman. He was an integral part of TRAK Electronics Corporation, Perkin-Elmer Corporation, and consulted with Bell Labs, the University of New England, the University of Nevada’s Research Institute, and the University of California Santa Barbara Physics Department and Quantum Institute.

Paul’s expertise in Physics and keen interest in Light brought him to Laser Physics with J. Dane Rigden (conceived the He-Ne laser at Bell Labs), Willis Lamb (Nobel Prize Winner), Ali Javan
(invented the Gas Laser at Bell Labs).

Like so many interesting people in the early 1950’s Paul got tangled up in the McCarthy hearings. Working with Sid Gottlieb and Joseph Volpe, Paul was one of the very few people to accomplish the rebirth of his Security Clearance!

After moving to the Santa Barbara area, Paul teamed with Beatrice M. Sweeney, his wife of 25 years, on many projects. Together, they helped Marvin Mudrick found the College of Creative Studies at UCSB. Paul was instrumental in the creation of the Quantum Institute at UCSB. He worked on environmental issues with Carol Ellis (Scientist with Southern California Edison).

Paul was fascinated with aircraft from a young age and knew Wolfgang B. Klemperer (Designer of DC6). His deep passion throughout his life was for flying, which he did for many years beginning in the 1930s and not ending until the late 1990s. He was proud of his multiengine instrument rating and his 9400 logged hours of flight time.

Paul had many passions, mentored many people from diverse backgrounds, and lived life in a full, fruitful, generous and gracious manner. He had a very special skill of working with people without telling them what to do. Paul provided many people with keen insight into the choices available to them and helped many of these people to establish high goals for their life. Paul’s generous and gracious assistance has changed the lives of many of the people with whom he interacted. Paul’s mind remained strong and versatile to the end, he left his life peacefully at home with family, friends and his beloved dogs at his side on March 6, 2011.

Paul married four women and produced two “biological” children, Karen and David Lee. He became the father for four of Beatrice Sweeney’s children, Poppy, Randy, Jay and Wendy Sweeney. Paul spent his last 20 years married to Susan Whisenand and became father to David Dunham, her son. Paul is survived by his wife Susan, his sons David Lee, Randy and Jay Sweeney, David Dunham, and daughters Karen Barrett, Poppy Dennis, and Wendy Constans.

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, April 16, 2011, 1:00 p.m., at the home of Paul and Sue with a Reception and Celebration of Paul’s life to follow.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that you support the Sansum Clinic Foundation, a major source of outstanding medical treatment in our community. Click here for more information: Sansum Clinic Foundation


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