Colleagues remember Observer retiree Donald Lee as hard worker, great team player
Jamaica Observer team members are still in shock at the sudden passing of retiree Donald Lee who they described as a hard worker, jovial, and great team player.
Lee, who worked at the Observer for 22 years, died on Sunday. He was 63.
He began working with the newspaper on December 16, 1998 as a caretaker and, at the time of his retirement last year, was a press operator.
Brian Johnson, assistant operations manager, made note of Lee’s climb up the career ladder in his tribute to the man he described as easy-going and who was well respected by the production team.
“He loved working at the Observer and took pride in doing his job well,” Johnson said. “He was someone I had great respect for. He started at the Observer as a caretaker and after several years in this position his ambition and determination to become a press operator led him back to school to qualify for the job. My deepest condolence to his family. Rest in peace, Donald.”
Marsha Wright, administrative assistant in the Production Department, said: “Words can’t express how saddened I am to hear of Donald’s passing. May his family and friends find comfort during this difficult time.”
Press Operator Gavaskar Lawrence said Lee, whom many people called “Bird”, was a great team player who took pride in his work.
“He was a very ambitious and jovial friend to all. Listening to Donald at nights while at work was like listening to a Miss Lou story. I will miss him dearly. Sleep in eternal peace, Bird. Press team is missing an ice breaker.”
Press Operator Christopher Jackson recalled that he worked with Lee from the Observer‘s early days at Fagan Avenue and found him to be very jovial and decent person. “He was very respectful to his colleagues and was very outspoken. I will call him the black Chinese man and his response would be, ‘Cool nuh man.’
“I hope he got the chance to make peace with God. Rest in peace, my friend.”
Maurice Bennett, another press operator, said he was crushed on learning of Lee’s death.
“The news of his passing hit mi hard because mi tell di man dem say mi a go link di Bird and have a few,” Bennett said, adding that after Lee retired “the press room got dull”.
Recalling Lee’s interactions at nights when the press was running, Bennett said he and his colleagues would hear Lee saying, “Let’s go, let’s go. Get it right, get it right.”
“He was a vibes man, who loved life and youth,” said Bennett. “Sadly missed. Mellow vibes, Donald ‘Dingo’ Lee,” said Bennett.
Press Operator Garth Davis recalled that he had known Lee since 2008.
“His sudden passing came has a shock to me. He was hard-working and his desire for knowledge and growth let him move from press room caretaker to a press operator. SIP, my friend,” Davis said.
Coleman Goodrich, a press operator, remembered Lee as “a very honest man, full of vibes”.
Added Goodrich: “Keep flying Donald, aka Bird.”
Press Operator Chevaun Maxwell said he still could not believe that Lee, whom he called “the great Dingo”, had passed.
“The last day I saw him I said’ ‘Dingo, yu good?’ and he replied, ‘Yeah Max, Observer deal wid mi nice, man; mi good, man’. Donald was a kind, fun-loving person who did not stand for foolishness and was always a true person.”
Another of Lee’s press operator colleagues, Andrew McQuick, said he was shaken by news of Lee’s death.
“Getting the news that Donald had passed on really come as a surprise to me. Knowing that it was last year during the pandemic he went home on retirement and was in fairly good health, to get the news that he had passed on was shocking to say the least. I still haven’t come to terms with this all now. May his soul rest in peace.”
Dispatch Supervisor Sonia Willis recalled that she knew Lee for over 20 years. “He was a very jovial person and had a strong determination. May is soul rest in peace,” she said.
Maintenance Technician Winston Russell, in his tribute, said: “Donald was a hard worker. He loved his job and enjoyed doing it.”
Russell shared that whenever he and Lee had exhausted the value on their lunch cards they would normally pick mangoes from the trees at the back of the Observer premises and have them with water. “That hold us till we reach home,” he said.
“I am going to miss him. He always had a way to make me laugh. We all will miss you. God speed, my friend.”
Maintenance Technician Dwight Henry described Lee as a “mild-mannered gentleman who was always willing to work” and who will be missed by all.
Press Supervisor Patrick Williams agreed, adding that Lee was a “jovial and dramatic person”.
Caretaker Cavan Liscomb said: “The great Bird, otherwise Sir Donald, was a very hard worker who liked to tell others to work hard and work smart. He was also a very nice person, someone who you can talk with. Big up yourself, Bird. Nuff respect.”
Press Operator Damion Halstead said he had a lot of respect for Lee and had looked up to him for inspiration.
“I worked with Donald for a year and he was committed to his work. When I started working on night shift as an apprentice I learnt much about press man job from Donald. He’s gone but never forgotten. Walk good, my good friend,” said Halstead.
Pre-press Technician Ian Watkis said: “Donald was a good person, someone who you could hold a reasoning with. He displayed a lot manners to the people around and was always trying, especially going back to school in his old age.”
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