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Sacramento publisher and community leader Lee dies at 83, establishing successful newspaper legacy

Story updated 9-24-19: Dr. Lee's picture changed

Dr. William Hanford Lee, longtime publisher and editor of The Sacramento OBSERVER newspaper earned his heavenly wings Sunday morning of Sept. 22, 2019; valuable community leader, Dr. Lee,  passed away in his sleep among his beloved family, according to his youngest son, Larry C. Lee. Dr. Lee was 83. 

Born in Austin, Texas on May 29, 1936, Dr. Lee and his family would later relocate to Sacramento, CA and live in the Del Paso Heights neighborhood. 

Dr. Lee was enrolled at Sacramento State College, now known as Sacramento State University, from 1953 to 1955. He went on to earn a degree in business finance from the University of California, Berkeley.

On Nov. 22, 1962, Dr. Lee, Gino Gladden, and local Sacramento businessman John W. Cole published the first edition of The OBSERVER

Eventually, Dr. Lee and his wife Kathryn Lee would take sole ownership of the weekly newspaper that served the Black community of Sacramento. 

The Lees built a monumental publication that produced news, politics, entertainment, and community affairs from a Black perspective. The OBSERVER won the prestigious John B. Russwurm award multiple times for journalism excellence.

For more than 60 years, Dr. Lee had been the ultimate community leader with distinction. As he was a strong voice, he was instrumental in establishing a chapter of the National Association For Colored People in Sacramento and he was the founder and past President of the Men’s Civic League of Sacramento. 

Dr. Lee’s wife Kathyrn Lee passed away in 2013. 

The Lees have three sons, William “Billy” H. Lee, Jr., and Larry C. Lee. Larry Lee, who launched in 2001, is currently the General Manager and Executive Editor of The OBSERVER.



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