Lee Lemons

Lee O’Daniel Lemons left this earth and transitioned to his heavenly home on June 27, 2018 on the Ben Robbins Ranch in Harbin, Texas at the age of 82. He was born on January 3, 1936 in Port Arthur, Texas but soon moved with his family to Palo Pinto.
During his youth he worked beside his father on a 2000 acre ranch in the Metcalf Gap area west of Palo Pinto where they raised both Angora goats and range cattle. Lee spent much of his ranch life on horseback in those days but he was also never without a part time job in Palo Pinto or nearby Mineral Wells. He was an excellent swimmer and always said that the job he enjoyed most was that of life guard at the famous and historic Baker Hotel.

After graduating from Mineral Wells High School, Lee attended John Tarleton State College in Stephenville where he was a sharp shooter in the ROTC and never made less than 100 in Chemistry. He paid all his college expenses by selling Bibles in the summer both in and out of state. Lee always felt that he had a special relationship with God and he often led vespers at Tarleton. He also met his first wife there.

Not long after graduating from college, he joined the United States Army and served two years in Germany. After returning to the U.S., he was called for a second tour of duty at Fort Bragg, North Carolina where he went through guerilla warfare training and was later sent to Kentucky where he trained as a Morse Code Operator.

Lee worked in a number of different fields over his lifetime and enjoyed aspects of each of them. He loved to tell stories of some of his harrowing experiences while flying all over the U.S. in a private plane for a fiberglass company. But he excelled as a salesman. Lee believed that selling had a lot in common with teaching because he said that successful selling really just amounted to sharing information with those who already wanted to buy (whatever it was) and Lee was always generous with his knowledge. He sold cars in Dallas, both new and used, and was usually salesman of the month.

At one point in his career, a good friend talked him into leaving the automobile industry to help him start a pool hall on Lemmon Avenue in Dallas. It was a strange turn of events for Lee when the partner was in a terrible accident and Lee became sole owner of this enterprise. The 8 Ball Pool Hall became another source of stories for Lee to share over the years and he especially liked to tell of the times that Eric Clapton and his entire band came in to shoot pool and have a few cold beers. Lee decided to run the pool hall 24 hours a day, seven days a week and it was very successful for ten years until Dallas had its big real estate boom and Lee was offered enough for the property that he couldn’t turn it down. One of the Dallas newspapers ran a story on Lee in which he said he was going to retire to Colorado, but it didn’t happen. He had met Judith who wouldn’t leave Texas, so he married her in 1989, began to study French, bought a house in Oak Cliff to fix up, and, although he had said he hated ranching and would never set foot on one again, he spent his last years taking care of the Robbins family farm in the Harbin Community near Dublin. He still loved the 1920s home in Dallas that had been a private USO in WWII and that he and Judith had been restoring, but he had been devoted to Ben and Betty Robbins and when he learned that he didn’t have much longer to live, he said he wanted to die on the ranch in the same room where Ben had died. And he did.

As incongruous as it might seem as one reads about a car salesman, a pool hall operator, and a rancher, Lee’s favorite music was that of Rachmaninoff and George Gershwin. He loved both the violin and the piano. He enjoyed attending the Symphony Orchestra and even escorted Dallas’ famous Russian-born ballerina, Madame Natasha Krassovska (Krassovska Ballet Jeunesse) to the opera. He easily picked up foreign languages and he could recite several French poems by heart and he and Judith used to amuse themselves as they drove between Dallas and Harbin by reciting an entire fable from LaFontaine together. One of the people he admired most was Dallas businessman Stanley Marcus and when Mr. Marcus died, Lee planted a tree in his honor in Dallas. Many years before, Lee’s aunt, Darlene Lemons, was discovered by Stanley Marcus when he saw her selling candy in the downtown Neiman-Marcus store and said: “You aren’t going to sell candy anymore. You are going to become a model for Neiman-Marcus.” And so she did.

Lee enjoyed dancing and skiing, and no winter was complete in his younger years without a trip to Vail. He loved animals and was always bringing home kittens that he had rescued from one place or another. He also loved plants and gardening, and when Judith came home with a pittosporum twig that she had bought one day, he planted it and it grew into a beautiful tree with a 30 foot canopy at their home called Schoen House in Dallas. Sadly, this plant died during Lee’s last month of hospice.

While obituaries don’t often include cause of death or focus on long-term illness, the family hopes that some general knowledge of what happened to Lee might help someone else. Lee was diagnosed in 2008 with dementia; however, there is strong reason to believe that this was a misdiagnosis and that for three years he was treated for that disease while the real problem continued to assault his mind: Lee had covert seizures that produced confusion that was assumed to be dementia. Each seizure was attended by a TIA, as shown on film made in 2008. But these were misidentified until 2011 when a grand mal seizure occurred and the film was reassessed by a different neurologist. Meanwhile, it is believed that he also had Tourette’s Syndrome (undiagnosed) and Normal Pressure Hydroencephalus, which is often mistaken for Alzheimer’s (undiagnosed).
Lee was predeceased by his parents, Ruth and Weldon Lemons; his younger sister, Ruth Evelyn; his grandmother, Lillie Bea Lemons, and his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Ben and Betty Robbins. He is survived by his wife, Judith Robbins Lemons, and two daughters, Becky Kolb (John) of Arizona and Lisa Parmely (Keith) of Dallas; two grandsons Bryan Moore of New York and Michael Parmely of College Station, his sister Dorothy Yawn (Richard) of Huntsville and his sister-in-law, Carol Robbins of Dallas.

We want to thank all of those who sent their love to Lee as he passed through this last and very sad stage of his life and we are especially grateful to Solaris Hospice Chaplain, Bobby Machen, who was Lee’s rock; and aides Hope, Nora, and Joy. Hope Marroquin was Lee’s aide for two years and he adored her. When no one else could get Lee to laugh, Hope could. The kindness and professionalism shown by these people touched our hearts and was of great consolation to those of us who loved him.

Lee was a participant in the UTSW Willed Body Program; therefore, time and date for a memorial service will be published later.

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