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Bill Lee Also Had A Dream

David 'Kip' Koontz

January 22, 2004

Last week Frederick lost a gem as former Alderman and community leader Bill Lee passed on.

This will not be an adequate tribute for someone who did so much for Frederick, but to say nothing would be a dishonor to his memory.

Bill Lee, known to many as Sonny, was a man of action, many times behind the scenes. He helped move forward the ideals of equality and racial justice in Frederick.

I only felt comfortable calling him Mr. Lee until instructed by him to select one of the other two. I picked Bill.

No one who attended his wake at Asbury United Methodist Church on Thursday evening - or his Homegoing on Friday - could have left unmoved from the outpouring of emotion from those whose lives Bill touched.

In the numerous tributes to his life and service to the community, people spoke not only of his public acts while on the Board of Aldermen, but of the countless acts he undertook to help individuals, all of which illustrated his commitment to his community, to those who live in it, and a mission to serve God by helping others.

To list Billís service, whether through his activity at Asbury Church, as a teacher, coach, through Kiwanis or other service organizations would fill pages. But what is most striking was Billís ability and desire to mentor and to help people one on one.

In my case, Bill always approached me from what I believe to be a sense of understanding of those issues to which I have been associated with championing, or at least the understanding of my desire and need to champion them.

There really never seemed to be a need to outright clarify this point because, even if we may have had disagreements, our conversations about these issues were always approached from Billís side in a non-judgmental way that made it easy to talk and learn.

From hearing the tributes I do not believe that my interactions with Bill were in anyway different from the way he approached everyone, a legacy we should all be so fortunate to leave.

One of Billís passions was collecting and maintaining a history of the African-American community of Frederick, some of which was recently compiled and published in a book, a lasting tribute to his memory.

However, Bill always desired to see a return of a reading room, library archive and museum of his collection since a possible location on Ice Street was demolished some years ago.

Sadly, attempts to fulfill his efforts to open a museum has met obstacles at government levels, according to those who spoke with me privately on Thursday might and in the public eulogy of Friday.

What a sad testimony to someone who left us so much, not only in the historical artifacts, but through the way he touched so many peopleís lives and helped move Frederick forward, to find the most appropriate tribute to his memory facing stumbling blocks.

While many, many others knew Bill Lee much better than I did and can pay a much better tribute to him, I can only conclude by saying that I know he will be missed and we as a community must commit to doing better by his memory by helping in fulfill his dream.

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