Ann Lee settled in Santa Barbara in 1958 with her husband Donald Lee, the year they became husband and wife. Once when Don was teaching her to drive in a used stick shift Morris Minor a mountain lion ran along beside the car on Camino Cielo. Ann was a devoted wife and mother. She was on friendly terms with half of Santa Barbara, waitressing at Petrini’s on Calle Laureles for 27 years to help support the family. She used to cook breakfast for Don before he left for work in the morning as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. Then she walked her kids to grade school.
As a child Ann learned to swim on the coast of Aberystwyth, Wales where she was born. Her first language was Malayan which she forgot but she went on to learn French. Her father was a biologist who wrote the first set of text books specifically for the tropics. Her mother was a lady teleprinter operator. Ann’s parents sent her home from Singapore to the countryside in the beautiful Wye Valley. Her parents remained and were interred in separate concentration camps by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. Her mother escaped harm swimming away from a sinking transport ship the Japanese torpedoed and strafed with machine guns.Her mother died of a second bout of malaria just at the end of the war. Ann left England at 17 and went to France before immigrating to the United States, working for the British Embassy in Washington D.C. In Santa Barbara she became a U.S. Citizen.
Ann read a lot, from Rudyard Kipling to Tony Hillerman and her children became big readers too. She encouraged them to become educated and play sports, particularly swimming. She got Tony into surfing, buying him a Yater surfboard and driving him to El Capitan for his first surf. She took her family on many hikes in San Roque, Mission San Ysidro and Rattlesnake Canyons. She liked beach combing to collect sea shells. Nobody in the family tree was particularly musical but Ann encouraged her children to play instruments and sing. She loved music, from Yma Sumac to The Band. She loved cats, dogs and rabbits and was quite fond of the many furry pets the Lees had over the years.
She welcomed many family friends and visitors to the Lee house where she often served them black tea. She baked excellent shortbread. She knitted cable sweaters and beautiful red and green Christmas stockings for the family. Ann and Don hosted exchange students from France and Japan. Before her health declined Ann attended the Episcopal church at All Saints by the Sea while George Hall was the rector. She died at home with her children present, Antony Lee, Noelle McGivern and John Lee. Her beloved granddaughter Ellen McGivern spent the summer helping Tony and hospice care for Grandma. She is also survived by a grandson Owen McGivern, her older brother and sister Elisabeth Gourdie and John Daniel.
With sadness and joy Ann Lee’s family and friends buried her at the Santa Barbara Cemetery.