James Lee, a former Daily Pilot sports editor and veteran Southern California journalist, has died. He was 39.
Lee, a married father of two children, died at home in Riverside on Oct. 15. He succumbed to infections brought on by heavy doses of chemotherapy used to treat a brain tumor, his wife, Danielle Lee, confirmed Wednesday.
Lee was hired by Times Community News, or TCN, a division of the Los Angeles Times that publishes the Daily Pilot and other newspapers, in 1999. He was first assigned to Our Times, a now defunct publication that served the Inland Empire.
In the early 2000s, Lee moved to Costa Mesa to work on other TCN products. He became Daily Pilot sports editor in 2005, serving until about 2006.
"James was the kind of editor and writer who you always knew you could trust to take on big tasks and get the job done," said former Daily Pilot Editor Tony Dodero. "He had a vast knowledge of sports and believed in our mission to deliver good high school and youth sports to our readers. Though he worked hard, he always put his family first. He loved them deeply and I'm so sad for them that he is gone."
Concerned about the newspaper industry's struggles, Lee left the Pilot and began editing church publications, his wife said.
Lee was born in 1971 in Santa Clara. He attended UC Irvine, where he graduated with a degree in English.
Lee had a profound love for sports and was capable of reciting statistics, his wife said.
"Oh, my gosh, he loved statistics," she said. "He could tell you all sorts of stuff — like who was the starting pitcher in the 1964 World Series. Things like that."
Four days before his death, he was watching three different games, flipping between soccer, baseball and football.
"He was in heaven — no pun intended," said Danielle Lee, 34.
She said she's glad that her husband, whom she married April 15, 2000, is no longer suffering.
Lee had been working as an editor for the Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside when the doctor told him that he had a deadly tumor. He immediately said that he still wanted to participate in the church's "crusade" and find his replacement.
"He never once blamed anybody, he never blamed God," Danielle Lee said. "You know how some people will blame people and start complaining? Well, he never did that. God helped us through all this. He found inspiration in God."
Born of Chinese immigrants from Shanghai, James Lee's first language was Mandarin, but over time he became fluent in English, eventually getting into the newspaper business.
In addition to his work with the Pilot and TCN, he worked in sports at the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
In addition to his wife, James Lee is survived by two children, James, 10, and Emma, 5; his father, James Sr., 84, of Mission Viejo; and mother, Grace, whose age was not available, also of Mission Viejo.
Services are scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside.