Fr. Robert Lee
In a huge loss to the Quad-Cities Catholic community, the Rev. Robert Lee, 74, died at Trinity Medical Center in Rock Island.One of the longest-serving clergymen in the Quad Cities and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, Father Lee was ordained in 1959. He assisted at Sacred Heart Parish in Moline until 1976 when he became pastor of St. Mary's in Moline. Four years later he was named pastor of Sacred Heart.He will always be remembered for his great ability to meet the needs of people of both his faith and other faiths," said Larry Rafferty of Rafferty Funeral Home in Moline. "They would say he had an unbelievable talent for caring and understanding.Mr. Rafferty shared a close friendship with Father Lee, dating back to Mr. Rafferty's wedding in 1961.He touched so many lives and will not be forgotten," Mr. Rafferty said. "He was just outstanding in so many different ways and did so much for the community.Father Lee's service as a board member for various area schools, including Alleman High School, illustrated his commitment to the community. In 1992, he became Vicar of the Rock Island Vicariate.Mr. Rafferty's favorite memories of his close friend were the times they just sat and talked.He always used to say to me, 'Larry, we know a lot of people. Someday we should write a book," Mr. Rafferty said.Now the only problem is, I can't write a final chapter," Mr. Rafferty said. "I'm missing a very good friend and a great confidant.A graduate of Alexis High School and St. Ambrose College, Davenport, Father Lee wasn't slowed by health problems throughout his life, including on-and-off bouts with cancer.We called him the miracle man," Mr. Rafferty said. "He probably had over 20 major surgeries in his lifetime.It's unbelievable the amount of obstacles he combated, but the good Lord kept him on this Earth to take care of those who needed his advice and his care.Carol and Ron DeMeyer, longtime members of Sacred Heart Parish in Moline, remembered Father Lee for his generosity and comforting presence in times of need.Everybody who belonged to our church loved him," Ms. DeMeyer said. "He was very outgoing, very kind and very caring.She referred to his years at Sacred Heart as a "landmark" in the Catholic community. Apart from his family, she said, the church was his life.He was more than just a pastor to us," said Mrs. DeMeyer. "He was also a dear friend.I was his first convert and he officiated at our wedding in 1963," she said. "He even blessed our house when we moved here a couple years ago.Those who worked with Father Lee held him in similar esteem.He was a wonderful priest and very supportive of Catholic education," said Sister Mary Alberta of Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield.Sr. Alberta worked with Father Lee at Alleman when he was a school board member. She said he was dedicated to growing young people, both spirituality and academically.Both of those things were paramount in his life," she said.Information obtained from the Quad-City Leader online, www.qconline.com, on 4/19/08"