Obituary: St. Louis philanthropist E. Desmond “Des” Lee, 92

Posted on: January 14, 2010

In Wednesday’s (1/13) St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sarah Bryan Miller writes, “E. Desmond ‘Des’ Lee, who built a fortune, then gave it away to an astonishing variety of area charities, arts organizations and schools, died early Tuesday (Jan. 12, 2010) at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center of complications from a stroke suffered last week. He was 92 and lived in Ladue. … Mr. Lee may have been St. Louis’ most significant individual philanthropist, giving away more than $70 million over the years. Among his biggest beneficiaries were the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and UMSL, where he endowed 19 professorships. ‘He was one of a kind,’ Fred Bronstein, president of the orchestra, said Tuesday. ‘His love of this organization was boundless, and his support was endless. He always understood the challenges of a major institution like this, but he never lacked optimism. He was a force that’s going to be felt in this city for years to come.’ Bronstein recalled Mr. Lee’s annual luncheons for the board and staff, at which he would play along with members of the orchestra. ‘That was Desi—a 92-year-old man playing the drums, and he was great.’ ”

Posted January 14, 2010