David Francis Lee doesn’t ask for much but he did say a couple of years ago that he wanted to have a big 90th birthday party for his friends and family and that he wanted an open bar.
There were full-scale plans and the date had been set for such a gala celebration for the lifelong Lynn resident and family patriarch. But the COVID-19 global pandemic forced an alteration of those plans.
But with the help on logistics from Lisa Nerich of the lifelong family friend Nerich family, David’s wife, Irene, and sons Mark and David Jr., gave Mr. Lee a 90th birthday celebration that was in a word, beautiful.
They lined up in cars at the Sacred Heart Church, (where David and Irene have been contributors to the church for years) and began their caravan down Myrtle Street and on to the Lee family home on Holyoke Street. Once there, they greeted Mr. Lee with all the love, respect, and joy they could from a distance.
It was clear that David and Irene Lee loved every minute of it.
‘The Ideal, supportive parents’
Mr. Lee is a Lynn original, living in the family home on Holyoke Street. Born in Lynn, he graduated from Essex Agricultural High School. He worked for HP Hood Milk in Charlestown for 42 years before his retirement. David is married to Irene Lee, who worked at General Electric for 46 years before her retirement.
“My mother was born and raised in Saugus and they met when she was 15 and he wads 16,” said Mark Lee, the younger of two sons. Mark is a school resource officer at Breed Middle School but also widely known as the Hall of Fame boys head hockey coach at St. Mary’s High School. David Lee Jr. has worked at General Electric for more than 40 years.
“They were the ideal supportive parents,” said Mark Lee. “My father coached West Lynn American Little League Baseball for years for both my brother and me. He was one of the original guys who helped start Lynn Youth Hockey and coached in the program for many years.”
And, of course, David and Irene Lee, were at the Garden when Mark Lee and his 2018-19 St. Mary’s High School hockey team won the Division 1 state championship. They were present for all of Mark’s coaching milestone victories as well.
“Absolutely they were at the Garden that day,” said Mark, of the Spartans’ 4-2 victory over Framingham.
One year earlier, St. Mary’s had lost in a classic, double-overtime thriller to Franklin, in the Division 1 state final.
“My father was there for that game, too,” said Mark.
Mark and David Jr. echoed the same respectful message: “how proud we are of our dad.”
“We’re extremely proud – he’s always been a hands-on-dad, he never missed any games, even in my coaching career he would be at most all games, even at this age,” said Mark. “He loves St. Mary’s hockey.”
Mark also hails his father “as one of the final guys left, the true West Lynners as we like to say.”
“He’s living in a house that his father built – it was the fifth house built on Holyoke Street, so it’s the Lee house since it was built,” said Mark. “The family has a long history in West Lynn.”
David and Irene Lee have two children, David Jr., who has worked at General Electric for more than 40 years, and Mark, a school resource officer at Breed Middle School for the past eight years, but also widely known as the Hall of Fame boys hockey head coach at St. Mary’s High School.
Mark said he was grateful to all who made his father’s 90th birthday so memorable.
“I want to thank so many people, friends and family, Lisa Nerich, the Police Department, the Fire Department – they put on an unbelievable showing on his actual birthday (May 2),” said Mark. “It was a huge parade.”
The happy occasions and proud moments continued for David Lee this week. Corey Lee, grandson of David and Irene Lee, graduated from the Massachusetts State Police Academy Wednesday. Corey played four seasons of ice hockey at St. Mary’s High School. “Papa Lee was his biggest supporter,” said Coach Mark Lee.