Remembering Roberta (Bobbie) Lee

Longtime Staples High School math teacher Roberta (Bobbie) Lee died on Saturday. She was 82.

The Bridgeport native graduated from Mary Washington College, and earned a aster’s degree in Connecticut. She spent 36 years at Staples, from 1966 to 2002.

A former student said, “She influenced me in ways I cannot repay, except to pay it forward, which I have done as a teacher. She was a very practical and caring teacher who did not, however, tolerate BS.

“She never gave homework on weekends but worked us hard during the week. She had no problem tossing you out of class for chewing gum, but those lessons were learned quickly.

Roberta (Bobbie) Lee, in the 1995 Staples High School yearbook.

“She commanded a great deal of well-deserved respect. She is the only teacher in my life, including college and grad school, that I chose to have again. She had a great deal of influence when I chose my career.

“I carry the lessons she taught me, not only in math but in life. To this day I am grateful for her friendship later in life.

“Roberta loved animals (especially my dogs). We had many lunches and get- togethers over the years. She will be missed every day.”

Her favorite teams — the Boston Red Sox and University of Connecticut women’s basketball Huskies — provided her with many hours of enjoyment in retirement. So did her Morningside garden.

Roberta is survived by her twin sister, Alberta Lee Chappell of Lynnfield, Massachusetts,  as well as many members of her extended family, friends, and professional colleagues.

A memorial luncheon gathering of family and friends will be celebrated on Friday, August 6 at 11:30 a.m. at the Milford Yacht Club, 131 Trumbull Avenue, Milford. Internment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Roberta E. Lee Memorial Scholarship Fund for the benefit of high school students pursuing higher education in the field of mathematics, c/o Christopher Carveth, trustee, 926 Orange Center Road, Orange CT 06477.

Roberta’s family wishes to thank the caring professionals at Smilow Cancer Hospital for their compassionate care. To leave an online tribute, click here.

6 responses to “Remembering Roberta (Bobbie) Lee

  1. Miss Lee was definitely one of the teachers who I didn’t appreciate until years later. She had a manner that could be a bit stand offish, but, she really cared about her students. I was less than a stellar math student and she did everything she could to get me through Algebra 2.

    Even before reading the tribute here, I mentioned to my colleague that Miss Lee didn’t give homework on Fridays– She also would try to predict the score of Staples Football games on the blackboard. Each week she predicted a Staples win. Her predictions weren’t correct much in those years.

    Miss Lee was part of a number of teachers from Staples who were impactful and have contributed a great deal to any success I’ve enjoyed in life.

  2. Jeanette Hupp Francisco

    Just one of the many Westport mathematics teachers who encouraged my love of the subject! I imagine there are many of us who went on to teach to hopefully pass that love on to the next generations.

  3. James Waldron

    How ironic, she died on the same day that in 2004 Varitek slammed his catcher’s mitt into A-Fraud’s face. We all know what her beloved Red Sox did later that year to the NYY. NY and the NYY are still trying to recover! I bet Bobbie enjoyed that year.

    God Bless Bobbie.

  4. Allison A Doyle

    Bobbie Lee made this mediocre math student into a moderate math student. (There is only so much a great educator can do.) Far and away, she was the best teacher I had at Staples; thoughtful, kind and wise. R.I.P. Miss Lee (and thank you!).

  5. My memories of Miss Lee make me laugh out loud. Her faux-crankiness was so entertaining, and I still impersonate her and use some of her best quips 40 years later. How vividly I recall her exasperated frustration. “You BIRDS don’t know when to use a negative NUMBER!” And her critique of my haircut. “WOW. You really got SCALPED!” I didn’t much like pre-calculus, but I really liked Miss Lee.

    • Melinda Hemson

      Don, when I saw this post, I could not, for the life of me, remember Miss Lee. (Class of 1988 here). She looked a little familiar but I didn’t think I had her until I read your comment. I remember her referring to the class as “birds” and that brought back the memory of her. I thought she hated me and my inability to understand algebra but the truth was, she fought for me and even helped me find a tutor so that I wouldn’t fail. It wasn’t until years later that my mom told me Miss Lee had contacted her and put her in touch with the tutor. I just thought my mom arranged everything. RIP Miss Lee and thanks for being the amazing teacher you were!!

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