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Gilbert Prentiss Lee ’39

A picture of Gilbert Lee

Gilbert Prentiss Lee ’39, June 19, 2010, in Portland, from age-related complications. Gilbert grew up in Eastern Oregon and graduated from high school in Baker City, a little town near the Wallowa Mountains. He majored in biology, wrote his thesis on fish runs at the (then brand new) Bonneville Dam and was elected class president. He followed classmate Ned McKrill ’38 to medical school at Tufts University, hitchhiking and riding freight cars from Portland to Boston. While awaiting admission to Tufts, he bicycled through Europe; when the German army invaded Poland, he wisely boarded a ship back to the U.S. Gilbert spent two years at Tufts and then transferred to the University of Oregon. After earning an MD, he trained at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Seattle, Washington, and served as a medical officer in the South Pacific. Back in Portland, he did a surgical residency at the Veterans Hospital and met Patricia A. Brownell ’43—who was head of physical education at Reed in 1946–49—at a folkdance event at the college. They married, and spent two years in Helena, Montana, before returning to Portland, where they raised three sons and created a spectacular landscape on their two-acre property. Gilbert was a surgeon and partner at the Valley Medical Center in Southwest Portland and was on the staff at Good Samaritan and St. Vincent hospitals. He was a member of the Portland Surgical Society, president of the Multnomah County Medical Society, director of the Parkview Nursing Home for 25 years, diplomate of the American Board of Surgery, and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He enjoyed skiing and hiking, and he wrote an autobiography, Reflections, which includes an account of his years at Reed. Survivors include Patricia, two sons, six grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and his nephew. A son, Gary, died in a mountain-climbing accident in 2008.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2010

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