Robert W. Lee
Robert W. Lee was born in Ashland, Ohio on April 27, 1940, to Kermit and Ethel Lee. He married Vivian A. Derr on October 10, 1969. Life-long residents of Ashland, Robert and Vivian, have five children; Brenda, Deborah, Richard, and Stacy of Ashland and Lori of Greenwich, Ohio. They also have eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Robert’s interest in basketball began at an early age. He first began playing at Pleasant Street Elementary School where he attended. During his fifth and sixth grade years, he helped his team win the city championship both years. This was the beginning of a long career and love for basketball.
During his youth, Robert played church league basketball for the West Tenth Street Brethren Church where he attended. On this team, Robert benefited from the coaching of the late Pop Glenn Messner. The team won most of the leagues that they played in at the time.
Robert continued playing basketball during high school. He attended Ashland High School, which was then located in the Ashland Middle School Building, and played all of his home games at McDowell Auditorium. While in high school, he played for two years and earned two varsity letters. During his senior year, in 1958, Robert was the leading scorer on the team with 17.8 point average. In addition, he was the second leading rebounder and shot 72% from the foul line.
One of Robert’s most memorable games in high school was played during his senior year. He scored 32 points helping his team to defeat previously undefeated and top ranked, Elyria Pioneer team.
Robert was also given the honor of being selected to the Mansfield News Journal’s first All-Area team in 1958.
Upon graduation from Ashland High School in 1958, Robert began working at the Faultless Rubber Company the following August. It later became Abbott Laboratories. Robert had a long work career at this company, 41 years and two months. He worked as Shipping Supervisor for an eighteen year period, prior to his eventual retirement in October, 1999.
In the early 1960’s, Robert attended Midland College in Ashland, where he studied Business Administration with a major in Accounting. During this four year period of studies, Robert also enjoyed playing basketball for the small college which was a member of the Lake Erie Conference. During all four years he played for Midland College, Robert made the First Team All-Conference Team. Furthermore, Robert set the all-time scoring record in the Lake Erie Conference for four years at 33.7 points per game.
During Robert’s college basketball career, Robert and his Midland College team had the opportunity to travel to Baltimore, Maryland where they competed in the National Little College Athletic Association Tournament. At this prestigious tournament, they finished third winning the consolation game. In addition, after the tournament, Robert received the honor of being selected to the National Little College Athletic Association’s All-American First Team.
After college, Robert played Industrial League for Messner Insurance and Faultless Rubber teams. Robert’s teams won most of the games they competed in during these leagues.
Robert played in various tournaments throughout his career. One of the biggest was the Ashland College Varsity A Tournament. One year, during this tournament, the Messner Insurance team, which Robert played for, finished as runner-up. In addition Robert won the scoring title and scoring trophy for the tournament.
Also, Robert played on various all-star teams from Ashland against the Harlem Satellites and the Cleveland Browns basketball teams. In addition, Robert had the honor and privilege to play with and against some of the best players in that era, such as, the late Larry Siegfried, Mel Nowell, the late Max Messner, Larry Brown, Garry Bradds, Gus Johnson, Bobby Knight, Kenny Sidle, and Dave Brubaker, just to name a few.
Robert is thankful to God, his wife, parents, family, friends, former coaches and teammates that have been such a support and encouragement during his career. He feels truly blessed to have been given the opportunity and ability to have had such a wonderful basketball career.
Nominator: Jim Messner