Vancouver school trustee Don Lee, a former city councillor, died this weekend of pancreatic cancer.
Mayor Sam Sullivan, in a statement yesterday, called Lee a great public servant, a trusted adviser and a good friend.

Lee was born in China and came to Vancouver as a teenager. He didn’t speak English and lived with his father in a small apartment in Chinatown.

Phillip Owen, who was mayor during Lee’s two terms on council (1996 to 2002), said Lee learned the language and got an education almost entirely on his own.


He taught math and physics for 31 years, including 26 years at Templeton Secondary in East Vancouver. He was elected to the school board in 2005.

“He pulled himself by the bootstraps at the age of 14 to become a man,” Owen said. “He carved out a very nice niche for himself in this country from a very shaky start.”