September 23, 2001
To the Family of Richard Lee -Buddy, Alex, Susan, Karen, and especially Zachary:
My deepest sympathy to you all and my thoughts are with you. There are no words that could fill your void, but I hope the following will let you know that as a young child this special person was enjoyed by others and left a lasting impression.
As I saw the tragedy unfold on T.V. I said to my daughter, Holly '86, that there will be some Punahou alumni lost there, but I did not tell her that I knew that Richie Lee worked at WTC. I was concerned from the moment we knew.
Yes, "RICHIE"! During my eight years of teaching Kindergarten at Central Union Chruch, Richie was by far my favorite student. I have followed him through the school bulletin of his years at Yale, his marriage and the birth of a boy! I had thought about writing him when I heard he was a father, to tell him what a great kid he was and that I hoped he would enjoy every minute of his new son (which I have heard he did).
The media in Honolulu described him as a Gentle Giant and a Fabulous person.
OUTSTANDING was the word I used to describe him on my teacher recommendation for his entrance into Punahou. Richie was an extremely bright all around kid, His excellent academic ability combined with his enthusiasm made him a delight to have in the classroom. He also had an unforgettable imagination, which he would use to entertain his classmates at sharing time. When I had conferences with parents, I always would be truthful and let them know what things the child needed to do to improve, but with Richie there was nothing -he really was the greatest student! I see to this day the way he wrote his name, thanks to his teacher mother, he wrote it properly from the first day of school.
One memory I will always cherish is when the chimes rang to gather at the beginning of the day, Richie (who always wore long pants-most kids in Hawaii wear shorts) would finish what he was doing quickly and then from where ever he was in the classroom
slide on his knees as fast as possible and end up always sitting eagerly directly in front of me on the floor. He was always first!
The other day I found an album that his class made for me. The picture Richie drew was me sitting in my chair. It made me feel that I had a little influence on his life and was a help in making him grow and form to who he became.
I remember his big grampa always picked Buddy and him up each day and his dad always came to every function and of course his mom came when she was not teaching.
When my grandson Zayn Alexander' 11, who is very outgoing and positive, started Kindergarten, I remember thinking that he had a little of Richie Lee in him. My family remembers me saying it and also remembers what a special person Richie has been to me.
In Honolulu, Tay Sandoz and Harlin Cadinha have spoken wonderfully of Richie in the newspaper and on T .V.- -just think those boys started preschool together 30 years ago and still are friends.
I know his spirit will always be with us. Much Aloha,
I have another grandson Gabriel Zachary -15 mo.