Lee Popper Harris, a Santa Barbara resident since 1983, died November 11, 2011, at her Santa Barbara home. She was 90.
Lee was born in White Plains, N.Y., in 1921. She attended the Music Conservatory of Westchester for eight years, and graduated from White Plains High School as a member of the National Honor Society and a Golden Eagle Girl Scout.
She graduated from the University of Michigan four years later, and attended New York University, after which she worked as a social worker in the Westchester County Department of Family and Child Welfare. During World War II, she enlisted in the Navy Waves, served courageously, and achieved the rank of officer lieutenant junior grade.
After the war ended, in 1946, Lee married pilot Jerome W. Harris, a Navy officer flight instructor and graduate of the University of Michigan. They settled in Westchester County, N.Y. She and Jerry had two children, a son, Mark (1948) and a daughter, Joan (1949). Lee was fully devoted to her family, which she honored as the most important aspect of her life.
Throughout the 33 years that she lived in Westchester, Lee was an active leader and volunteer in many community organizations, including the League of Women Voters. She was founder and president of the Briarcliff Manor PTA, president of the Ossining Children’s Center, and organized the first senior housing project in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
Lee and her husband traveled extensively throughout six continents (often with Elderhostel International) and finally in 1983, settled in Santa Barbara. Lee actively participated in adult education and continued her lifelong love of tennis.
After moving to Vista del Monte in 1998, Lee once again became a community leader. She served on many committees, co-founded the community store, and served as president of the Residents Association and statewide representative for two years.
Lee Popper Harris passed away peacefully in her sleep in her 90th year, on November 11, 2011. She is survived by her sister, Evelyn (brothers David and William predeceased); her son, Mark (wife Terry and sons Dylan and Eli); and daughter Joan (husband David and sons Elliot and Colin).
Of all of her accomplishments, both her immediate and extended family most appreciate Lee’s unconditional love and support. She leaves behind a legacy of love, community service and kindness.