Rutland icon passes

The man affectionately known as the Mayor of Rutland has died.

Ben Wah Lee died at home, in his sleep, Sunday night. He had been battling cancer.

He was 86.

Lee was a teacher in the Central Okanagan School District for 34 years

Born in Armstrong, Lee was a pillar of the community going back to the early 1970s.

Lee entered politics in 1973, when he was elected to his first term on city council. He served on council nearly 24 years before retiring from office Dec. 2, 1996.

While on council, he served as a regional board director and chair of the regional parks committee for 13 years.

He worked hard on council to secure park land for the public while also promoting multiculturalism.

His promotion of multiculturalism was evident in the early '70s when he became a founding member of both the Kelowna Multicultural Society and Kelowna Folkfest Committee. He was also a founder of the Kelowna Chinese Cultural Society.

Lee served on numerous other boards and committees during the past 40 years.

He continued to serve on some until his passing.

In 1996, a park bearing his name opened in Rutland. In 2001, he was given the Freedom of the City.

Ben Lee is survived by his wife Joyce and two sons, John and Robert.

A celebration of life will be held this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at Ben Lee Park.

In lieu of flowers, you can make a donation to the City of Kelowna in the name of Ben Lee Park.


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