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Kenneth B. Lee

Born: January 23, 1922, Nauvoo, Tioga County, PA.  Died: December 23, 2010, Williamsport, Lycoming County, PA.  Member of the House: Sullivan County, 1957-1966, and the 111th Legislative District, representing all of Sullivan and Wayne Counties and part of Susquehanna County, 1967-1974. Affiliation: Republican.

Kenneth B. Lee graduated from Elkland Township Vocational High School in 1940.  From 1942-1947, Lee served in the United States Air Force as a B-24 pilot.  During World War II, he was stationed in Italy.  Lee graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education from Mansfield State University in 1948 and with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1950 from Dickinson Law School.  Lee was elected the Sullivan County District Attorney from 1954-1956.  In November of 1956, Lee was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 1957-1958 session.  He was re-elected for eight more successive terms.

Lee worked with Representative Willard “Chick” Agnew in 1961 to change the Republican Caucus to require a secret ballot for leadership positions.  Lee credits this change as a major factor in his election to Republican Leader, which eventually led to his election as Speaker.  In 1965 Lee was the cosponsor of legislation, which became Act 85, which required court-martial board members to vote secretly and give the accused a copy of testimony.  Lee was also a member of the Commission for Legislative Modernization, which moved the legislature from part-time to full-time.

For 10 of his 18 years in the House, Lee was elected to the leadership positions of Republican Leader and Speaker of the House.  He was elected Republican Leader in November of 1963-1966 and 1971-1972.  In the 1967-1968 session, Lee was elected as the 128th Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  Of the House’s 20th-century Speakers, Lee was the only one from Sullivan County.  In the 1969-1970 session, he was the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.  Lee was elected Speaker again for the 1973-1974 session. 

While serving as Speaker, Lee was selected to be a delegate to the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention of 1968.  He served on the Structure and Organization Committee and the Administration and Finance Committee during the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention.  Lee helped establish the nation’s first Legislative Data Processing Center, with Act 365 of 1968.  He was also a cosponsor of the Legislative Code of Ethics, Act 154 of 1968, which created the House Ethics Committee.

Lee retired from the legislature in 1974 to run for Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor.  Following his loss for Lieutenant Governor, Lee continued his practice of law in Sullivan County.  He was a board member for a number of organizations, including the First National Bank of Dushore, Dushore Lions Club, and the Kettle Creek Fish and Game Club.  He also served on the Boards of Trustees of Mansfield University, the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, and the Muncy Valley Hospital.

Lee was married to the former Marjorie Cole, with whom he shared five children: Susanne, Laura, Scott, Cole, and Kenneth E. Lee, and eight grandchildren.  Kenneth E. Lee also served the 111th Legislative District representing parts of Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, and Wyoming Counties for the years 1989-1993.

Kenneth B. Lee died on December 23, 2010 in Williamsport, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.  He is interred at Eagles Mere Cemetery in Eagles Mere, Sullivan County, Pennsylvania.

Historical Member Biography

To view this Speaker's House Historical Biography, click here.