In Memoriam: Marvin D. Lee

We are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and volunteer, Marvin Lee, who passed away on March 28, 2022 in Davenport, Iowa.

Marvin Daniel Lee was born on December 24, 1931 in Moline, Illinois. He was the son of Alonzo and Ada (Ballard) Lee. He was the youngest of four children, his older siblings being Pauline, Raoul, and Barbara Lee.

In 1950, Marvin graduated Davenport High School. Among the graduates in the Class of 1950 was Marilyn Hancock, his high school sweetheart. Marvin and Marilyn married on September 23, 1950 at First Christian Church in Davenport. They would go on to have two daughters, Linda and Susan.

The Democrat and Leader, September 25, 1950. Pg. 7

Mr. Lee served in the United States Air Force from February 1951 through February 1955 during the Korean Conflict. He returned home to his family a Staff Sergeant with an honorable discharge for his service. He immediately began working at the Riverside Foundry in Bettendorf, Iowa.

After passing the Davenport Civil Service exam, Marvin became a Davenport Police Officer on April 1, 1958. He worked in the Patrol Unit until he left the Department on January 15, 1967 to take a position with Chicago Tri-Cities Motor Freight and then Kartridge Pak Company.

The Morning Democrat, November 14, 1958. Pg. 34.
The Daily Times, November 20, 1958. Pg. 11.

He retired from Kartridge Pak on March 1, 1991 after 23 years of service. Mr. Lee was also a Master Mason for 50 years from November 1953 to November 9, 2003. He was with Blue Lodge, and was a former member of the Consistory and the Kaaba Shrine.

Around the Fall of 2005, Marvin decided to research what had happened to the officers he had served with on the Davenport Police Department. He soon began to collect the obituaries of deceased officers and created an index that included years of service, death, and burial information. Once Marvin had located the officers with whom he served, he decided to expand his research and created a collection of police officer obituaries from the first Davenport City Marshal through the present day.

Marvin Daniel Lee c. 1958 from Story Book 1 in Collection 2012 – 33.

During this time, Mr. Lee became a volunteer at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Department at the Davenport Public Library. We always enjoyed working and visiting with Marvin. He loved to joke with us and make us laugh. Marvin would share stories about growing up in Davenport during the 1940s and ’50s, and his later career as a Davenport Police Officer.

On October 19, 2012, Mr. Lee donated his Davenport Police Obituary Collection to the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Department. This collection contains 19 binders (most about 5 inches thick) filled with the obituaries, genealogical research, newspaper clippings, and service information on 533 Davenport City Marshals and Police Officers from 1839 through the present. We were grateful that Mr. Lee continued to help us keep the collection updated even after 2012.

Binder from the Davenport Police Department Obituary Collection 2012-33.

You might think Mr. Lee would have been finished researching after this, but no! As part of the reunion committee for the Davenport High School Class of 1950, Marvin began to collect obituary information for deceased classmates as a way to keep track of the 627 graduates. He donated the Davenport High School Class of 1950 Collection to the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center on November 17, 2016. He helped to keep this collection up-to-date as well. His last update to us was on March 24, 2022. This collection today contains 12 binders (most 5 inches thick) with obituary and genealogical information on 450 of his classmates.

Binder from the Davenport High School Class of 1950 Collection 2016-42.

And he still wasn’t done yet: On October 10, 2019 Mr. Lee donated a two-binder collection of obituaries of former employees from Kartridge Pak in Davenport, Iowa.

The amazing part of all this work was that it began with the simple question “Whatever happened to….?”

Davenport Police Department Obituary Collection 2012-33. Image from Story Book 1. This photo was from Mr. Lee’s personal collection he added into his research.

We would like to extend our condolences to the family of Mr. Lee and thank them for sharing him with us. We know research can become overwhelming and time-consuming.

To Mr. Lee, we will miss your enthusiasm, jokes, and kindness. And as we promised you, we will continue updating your collections. Thank you for your dedication to local history research and thank you for your amazing friendship the past 16 years.

(posted by Amy D.)

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One Response to In Memoriam: Marvin D. Lee

  1. Linda Lee says:

    Thank you Amy for a beautiful tribute to my dad. It was just wonderful ! We will contact you when we get things boxed up for you to get. Thank you again- greatly appreciated. Linda Lee ( daughter)

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