On September 24, 1960, Leonard Douglas Lee was born to the late Deacon John Wesley Lee II, and Deaconess Bernice Elizabeth Lee. Leonard is the eighth child of ten children born to the loving couple John and Bernice Lee. On June 17, 2020, the Lord comforted his loyal servant, and took away all his hurt and pain; (rest my son and be rewarded). Our Lord and Savior beckoned Leonard home to receive his crown.
As a young child, Leonard was known as “Lenny” or “Big Lenny”. Leonard was raised in the Bronx where he spent the majority of his childhood and adult life. He grew up in the Bronx River Projects, moved in 1968 to the Wakefield section of the Bronx, and also raised his children in Co-op City in the Bronx. As a child, he loved to build model planes and ships and racing electric slot and H.O. cars with his brothers. He also loved competitive games: basketball, baseball, football and foot races; stickball, backgammon and even played jacks. Lenny enjoyed watching westerns, kung fu, and police drama series on television. His life-long ambition was to have a career in law enforcement. Lenny was also very comical with family and friends. Along with his brothers he would often play pranks on their sisters. As many can attest, Lenny kept that sense of humor throughout his life. He could imitate the voice of his father and his father's sisters so well on the phone that he often left them confused on if they had really spoken with each other on a given day. Lenny as a young child was also a “mama’s boy”. He enjoyed being in his late mother’s company, learning how to cook, and singing the praises of God with her.
Lenny attended PS 87 where he learned to play the clarinet. He then attended John Philip Sousa, JHS 142. He graduated from Grace Dodge Vocational High School with a concentration in accounting. Lenny utilized his accounting skill in his teenage years and received an accounting job for bookkeeping and tax preparation. He pursued his higher educational career beginning at Lehman College (took some time away to raise his older children), and later completed his Associates degree at Westchester Community College. Driven in his pursuit for higher levels of education, and career advancement opportunities, Lenny returned to college to complete his bachelor’s degree at Empire State College.
Leonard worked for 28 years as a Fraud Investigator for Westchester County Department’s of Social Services. He loved his career as a social worker, where he was able to help people that truly needed a caring heart. Leonard, since a young man, always wanted to serve in law enforcement to better help his community. With great ambition and his long-time goal of becoming an officer of the law, he changed careers to become a probation officer. He served Westchester County Probation in this position, for nine years. Lenny also held various jobs in several industries. He often worked two jobs to provide for his family. While working these jobs and seeking higher education, Leonard also prepared taxes for family and friends.
At the age of 26, Leonard loss his late wife Joan Lee. The young family of four spent their last days with their loving wife and mother at Disney World, until her untimely passing. At the young age of 26, Leonard raised his two older children Leonard Jr. and Jessica as a single father. Lenny worked hard to provide a life for his children, he taught them the love and grace of God. He supported and coached them through primary and secondary school. Leonard’s love for God, and continuous education resonated in his teaching style. He instilled the importance of education in his children throughout their lives. He would always tell his kids “If you want to be somebody, if you want to go somewhere, you better wake up and pay attention”. His children remember all of the home school bible studies; the mini in-house choir group; Saturday mornings having home school study sessions to begin their day (practicing reading, writing, and math before they could go outside to play). His children would call him “Mr. Douglas”. He always found a way to make it fun for his children to learn about God and so many other life lessons. Leonard continuously pushed his children to strive for higher education and afforded to put them through college.
Leonard was a hard worker and did everything he could do to provide for his family. He would famously say “a man that does not work should not eat, and you can look at me an see I’m eating (with that big laugh of his)”. With such a heavy load of responsibility, his late sister Daria Lee stepped in place as a mother figure to his young children and together they raised them into adulthood.
At an early age, Leonard heard the voice of God and gave his life to the Lord. He was baptized on July 7, 1968 at New Covenant Holiness Church. Lenny developed a love for the Word of God; he was later ordained as a Deacon in New Covenant Holiness Church in his early twenties. He went on to associate with a number of churches in his capacity as a Deacon until the Lord called him into the ministry and caused him to form New Beginnings International Ministries (“NBIM”) in 2014. Pastor Lenny went on to associate with Faith Church of God in Brooklyn, NY in fellowship with Pastor Annette Logan and Bishop Michael Grant.
Leonard became an ordained minister on September 13, 2014 and went on to Pastor New Beginnings International Ministries. During his pastorship of NBIM, Pastor Lenny held online bible classes with several participants and formed a team of God-filled members in which they sponsored two Missionary trips to Belize. During the Missionary trips, Pastor Lenny and the NBIM members ministered and touched countless lives. Moreover, during these trips, enough money was raised to feed 50 Belize families for one month. Leonard’s heart’s desire was to continue preaching God's word at home and abroad. He loved the Lord so much, and he shared that love through helping others, being a mentor, being a friend, making you laugh and always letting you know how much God loves us all. It was his life’s passion to tell everyone about the miraculous power of God. There was never a conversation held with someone in which Leonard was not introducing people to the blessing of Jesus. God blessed Lenny with the ability to speak lovingly from his heart, being a compassionate and humorous soul. Those inherent abilities instilled by God, allowed Lenny to build meaningful relationships with family, friends and with total strangers.
Leonard was compassionate, charismatic, and a humorous man. He was known for making everyone around him smile as he would tell a joke or would speak in one of his many voice impersonations. He loved playing pranks on people. His staple joke that he never failed to catch someone off guard was “Hey, I think you dropped your wallet”. Once while on a cruise in Canada with family and friends, the scheduled comedian failed to appear, and Lenny rose to the occasion. He was so funny and well-liked, that the cruise line gave him back his passage fare and asked him to return the next year! Leonard’s smile and charm were contagious. Being so charming and likeable he would always find a way to get a deal out of something; he would be so excited about getting something half-off or almost for free. Lenny had many hobbies, he enjoyed road trips, fishing, riding his motorcycle, driving his boat and going to the gun range. Leonard was also known for his melodic voice; he loved singing.
On September 10, 2004, with God’s hand in the midst of his life Leonard asked his best friend Eugene Cialini, if he knew any Christian women he could meet. Eugene wanted to introduce Leonard to his wife’s cousin, Carolee Matteson, for at least two years; (but it was not the right time until this date). He made her laugh the minute he got on the phone. On September 17, 2004, the two met in person at his best friend’s home and a week later they went on their first date; which was Leonard’s birthday, September 24, 2004. On April 19, 2008, he married Carolee; who together, built a life together not only as husband and wife, but as best friends who supported each other every step of the way. Lenny enjoyed playing jokes on Carolee. This was his expression of love; he often caught her off guard, making a loud noise to make her scream, or sneaking up behind a corner. Leonard often bragged about his wife to anyone who would listen, boasting about her love for him. Together they had two children (Wesley and Madisen), to complete their family.
Leonard loved his kids more than life itself. He never missed a moment to tell them how much he loves them and how proud he was of them. Leonard had nicknames for all his children: Lenny Jr. (Lion-O and Parrot), Jessica (Pumyra), Wesley (Little Rev), and Madisen (Lois Lane), and they called him “Mumm-Ra” and “Doctor Frankenstien”. His seven grandchildren adored him knowing him as “Papa” and loving him for his funny jokes and the best fried chicken; and continuously teaching them about the word of God (by having in-home Sunday school/bible studies with his grandkids).
Leonard is survived by his beloved wife Carolee Lee, his children, Leonard Douglas Lee Jr. and his spouse Jennifer Busgith Lee, Jessica Shauntay Lee and her spouse Christopher Smith, Wesley Douglas Lee, and Madisen Jordyn Lee; his grandchildren, Tianna Robinson, Jayla Lonesome, Anala Smith, Stacen Smith, Trishelle Smith, McKenzie Lee and Karson Lee; and his siblings, John (Shirl), Vivian, Gloria, Barry (Virgie), Janice, Mark (Sandra), three sisters-in-law (Leeann (William), Patricia (Paul), Roslyn), and 40+ nieces and nephews.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future - Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end - Isaiah 60:20 (NIV)
The Family of Leonard Douglas Lee, Sr. wishes to express their thanks and gratefulness for your expressions of love, concern and sympathy. God knew … we thank Him for Leonard’s life and believe without doubt that he moved from this life of labor onto reward. Today, he is rejoicing in Heaven with our parents, John W. and Bernice E. Lee, his former wife Joan Lee; his siblings: Ethel LaVerne, Daria Delores and Gary Steven Lee.
Memorial donations may be made to assist Leonard's children, Wesley and Madisen Lee, during this most difficult time. Checks may be made payable to Carolee Lee, and mailed c/o McHoul Funeral Home, Inc., PO Box A, Hopewell Junction, NY 12533.