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KOTA KINABALU – Veteran choir master of the Sacred Heart Cathedral here was called to eternal life on 3 May 2018. He was 95.
Francis Lee Yit Khee served as choir master of the cathedral from 1960 to 1987. Aside from being choir master, he also served as parish councillor from the 1970s to the late 1980s as well as reader, offerer, and extraordinary minister of Holy Commumion.
Born on 29 Jan 1923 in Sandakan, Francis was the second eldest child in a brood of five boys and four girls born to Thomas Lee Yen Chiang and Beatrice Ho. His younger brother is Archbishop Emeritus John Lee while his eldest son is Father Cosmas Lee.
After five years in the Aberdeen Regional Seminary in Hong Kong (1939-1944), he decided that he was not called to the priesthood. He married Francisca Wong in 1947 and they had 13 children: nine boys and four girls (two died shortly after birth).
To feed his growing family, he worked at various jobs – teacher, store assistant, storekeeper, and school canteen operator.
In 1981, when he was 51, he received the papal award “Bene Merenti” from Pope John Paul II for “long and exceptional service to the Church.”
He served as the first Local Minister of the Fraternity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Order of Franciscan Seculars) for 14 years. The OFS was established in Sabah on 3 Oct 1986.
His wife died on 18 Dec 1980, almost two weeks after meeting with a car accident near Seremban.
Francis is survived by his 11 children, 34 grandchildren, and 12 great grandchildren.