WILSON, N.C. — November 14, 2016 — Barton College is pleased to announce the recently elected appointment of John F. Lee as Chair of the Barton College Board of Trustees. Lee was officially installed as Chair at the fall 2016 meeting of the Barton College Board of Trustees. He follows fellow trustee Dr. Gregg A. DeMar of Connecticut, who served as Chair of the Board of Trustees from 2011-2016.
“John Lee’s election as our new Chair of the Barton College Board of Trustees is a testament of the Board’s confidence in the leadership of this distinguished trustee who has demonstrated a steadfast commitment and dedication to Barton College for the past 26 years,” said Dr. Douglas N. Searcy, President of Barton College. “Respected by his fellow Board members, John is a proven leader with keen business acumen and a visionary perspective for his alma mater. The Barton community will benefit greatly with John Lee at the helm of our Board of Trustees. I look forward to working with our new Board Chair and the Board of Trustees as, together, we continue to lead Barton into a bright and healthy future.”
During Lee’s tenure on the Board, he has served as a member of the Finance and Trusteeship committees, and as Chair of the Student Affairs Committee. He also has served as a member of the Board of Trustees’ Executive Committee. Devoted to the College, Lee and his Barton alumna wife, Lynn, have given generously of their time, energy, and financial resources, most recently supporting the Lee Entrance, which opens onto the crescent drive of the campus’ recently constructed West Entrance. The Lees’ philanthropic support is recognized through their membership in the Barton Society, the Torchbearer’s Society, the Heritage Society, and the Bell Society.
“I began my career in business at 20 years old due to the death of my father, James L. Lee,” shared Lee. “It was very important to my parents that I earn a college degree, and without Barton, due to my circumstances, that would not have been possible. Getting a college degree at the same time as running a business during a severe recession taught me that hard work and perseverance pays off. I am grateful to the institution, its administration, and faculty for what they stand for; it will be an honor to serve in any capacity that is asked of me. The relationships with the people we have met during our years with the College have been rewarding and enriching for Lynn and me. Our association with the College is something we cherish. We appreciate the mission of the College and the greatness it holds in the lives of our students…yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”
As Chair of Lee Motor Group, Inc. in Wilson, Lee oversees the management of automobile dealerships in four states, one of which is Lee Ford Lincoln in Wilson, a dealership in continuous operation since 1953. Other dealerships in Wilson include Lee Nissan and Lee Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.
Under Lee’s leadership, his dealerships have received numerous awards from the manufacturers he represents including Ford, Lincoln, Nissan, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis. Lee Motor Company has been presented with Ford’s highest award, the President’s Award, a total of four times. Lee Nissan has been the recipient of the Merit Master Award, Nissan’s highest honor. Lee Hyundai of Fayetteville has received the Board of Excellence award from Hyundai. Both Kia Country of Charleston and Kia Country of Savannah have been honored with the President’s Award from Kia.
Lee earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Barton College (then Atlantic Christian College) in 1982. In 1997, he was named “Alumnus of the Year” by Barton College, and, in 2011, he was the recipient of the Wilson-Barton Partnership Business Leadership Award.
His involvement in area business affairs and community service is wide-ranging. Past positions include membership on the Greenfield School Board of Trustees, Salvation Army Boys Club Council, Wilson County Heart Association, and Wilson’s First Baptist Church Board of Deacons. Currently, Lee serves as a Board member of the N.C. Automobile Dealers Association, and he is on the Wilson Board of Directors for Southern Bank. In January 2017, he will assume the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina where he has been a member of the Board for four years.
In addition to his business and civic accomplishments, Lee also pursues various other interests. He participated in automobile racing from 1985 to 1999. He began on local dirt tracks and, in 1992, he competed in the Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway. Licensed as a Winston Racing Series NASCAR driver from 1993 to 1999, he won more than 30 events. With Ford Motor Credit Corporation as a sponsor, he was a NASCAR champion in 1999. He retired from competition that year.
Lee is a certified private pilot with instrument, multi-engine, sea plane, and rotorcraft ratings with a total of 5,500 hours. He enjoys using aviation as a tool in the management of his dealerships.
Lee also enjoys fishing and hunting with his daughter. He has developed a passion for the freedom to hunt and for promoting wildlife conservation and management in North America and worldwide. This passion manifests itself in his lifetime memberships in the non-profit Wild Sheep Foundation, Safari Club International, and Grand Slam Club Ovis. He is currently pursuing the Grand Slam of North American Wild Sheep, which is considered to be the pinnacle of hunting achievement.
Lee and his wife, Lynn, make their home in Nash County with their 11-year-old daughter, Luisa. The Lees are members of the First Baptist Church of Wilson.