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2011 Tribute to Sammy Yukuan Lee

The Life of Sammy Yukuan Lee

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Click here for a statement by Mr. Sammy Lee's second son - Mr. Howard Lee.

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                                                              Sammy Yukuan Lee

                                                (October 14, 1902 - September 9, 2011)

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Mr. Sammy Yukuan Lee, a beloved friend of the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies and esteemed collector and scholar of Chinese antiquities, passed away on Sept. 9, 2011, at the age of 109. We express our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.

A generous philanthropist, Mr. Lee contributed to a wide range of causes in American higher education, art collection and cultural preservation. The UCLA Center for Chinese Studies expresses deep gratitude as one of his beneficiaries.

The Sammy Yukuan Lee Lecture on Chinese Art and Archaeology was established in 1982 in celebration of Mr. Lee's 80th birthday. This series has hosted expert scholars and speakers from all over the world and provides invaluable cultural enrichment to the UCLA community and general public. During the past three decades, the Sammy Yukuan Lee Lecture has remained the signature annual event of the Center for Chinese Studies at UCLA.

Since the 1990s, the Sammy Yukuan Lee Foundation has also sponsored scholarships for undergraduate students at UCLA. The Foundation supported 4-year full-support scholarships for students beginning in the 1990s. In recent years, the Foundation has supported top students from premier universities in China to study abroad for three consecutive summers at UCLA, a European University, and Fortune 500 company or research institution, respectively. Besides serving as a stepping-stone to advanced educational and professional opportunities, the Sammy Lee undergraduate scholarships have provided recipients with invaluable international academic, cultural, and leadership experiences.

The Sammy Yukuan Lee Foundation has also supported many other programs and projects at UCLA-including the New Approaches to Chinese Studies lecture series of the Center for Chinese Studies-in some cases providing the spark that has set into motion important new projects, and in other cases providing timely and generous support that has sustained worthy programs. Mr. Lee's second son Howard has served as a member of the UCLA Foundation in recent years, providing generous financial support to UCLA and introducing other donors to the campus.

The Sammy Lee Foundation has made generous contributions to art and cultural institutions in Los Angeles and elsewhere. Thanks in large measure to the Foundation's gifts, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) now holds among the most highly valued of Chinese lacquers in the United States. The Foundation has donated collections to the Tokyo National Museum, National Palace Museum in Beijing, Shanghai Museum, and Qingdao Municipal Museum and is now collaborating with the Shandong University to construct a website featuring lacquer pieces in major collections throughout the world.

Sammy Lee lived his later years in southern California with his youngest son, King Yang (John), near his second son King Hao (Howard), and third son King Sum (Sam), dividing his time between his latest research into Chinese archaic jades and his pursuit of the art of golfing. At least twice a year, he traveled to Tokyo to see his oldest son, King Tsi, and to Hong Kong to visit his fourth son, King Kong.

As he approached his 100th birthday, Sammy Lee retired to Qingdao in the Shandong province where he enjoyed the company and care of his niece, Liu Lee Xiuying, and her family.

He is survived by his four sons and daughters-in-law, seven grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren. His reverence for Chinese art and culture, commitment to higher education, and the enjoyment of a full and vibrant life leaves a legacy for us all to follow.

The Sammy Yukuan Lee Lecture Series features a yearly lecture and seminar presented by leading scholars on Chinese art and archaeology.
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