John Peter Lee
Aug. 6, 1926 – July 9, 2015
John Peter Lee, a legal pioneer, iconic trial lawyer, devoted husband, father, grandfather, art lover, and free thinker, passed away on July 9, 2015. John was a family man to his core who fought against seemingly insurmountable odds. Born on August 6, 1926, in San Francisco, John met Patricia, his wife of 66 years, while attending college in Reno. A 1949 graduate of the University of Nevada Reno and a 1953 graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law, John moved his family to Las Vegas in 1954. He opened a law practice in a small office on Fremont Street and began a long and illustrious legal career working with prominent Attorney G. William Coulthard who later became his brother-in-law. With a career spanning six decades, John became the second longest, continuously-practicing litigator in Nevada. Specializing in complex litigation, John handled literally thousands of cases in his lifetime, ranging from the MGM Fire lawsuit to several recent airspace eminent domain cases, one of which resulted in nearly the largest inverse condemnation settlement in Nevada history. He was associated with at least one hundred cases before the Nevada Supreme Court. He served as chairman of the Clark County Legal Aid & Defenders’ Society, was a member of the Nevada State Board of Bar Examiners, the Board of Governors of the Nevada State Bar, and Master of the Bench of the American Inns of Court. John Peter Lee was a strong advocate for those less fortunate than himself, sometimes inviting homeless citizens into his downtown Las Vegas office to lend them a helping hand. A track and field hurdler in high school, John was stricken by Polio at the age of 17. Despite being told by the attending physicians that he would never walk again, he fought his way to full mobility. One of John’s great joys in life was hiking through the then isolated and largely unknown Red Rock Canyon he loved so much and shared with his family on numerous Sunday outings.
John was as dedicated to his family as he was to his law business. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Melinda Lee-Zornes; son-in-law, Gary Zornes; and son, Brenden Lee. He is survived by his wife, Patricia Lee, his daughter, Allyson Benedict (Harry), his sons, James Lee (Kelly) and Brian Lee (Julie) and six grandchildren, Marissa Benedict, Alex Benedict, Isabella Lee, Ethan Lee, Nicholas Lee and Ashley Lee. John Peter Lee was truly one of a kind and will be deeply missed by his family and numerous friends. The legacy he has left behind in the legal community of Nevada will be felt for generations to come, most especially by the young legal practitioners he mentored over his 60-plus year career, some of whom went on to become Judges on the State and Federal benches, as well as prominent attorneys in their own right. Please visit http://www.lvrj.com to sign the guest book. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Nevada Legal Services, a nonprofit Law Center “dedicated to providing legal representation to those least able to afford access to justice,” a creed John Peter Lee knew well.