James C. Lee, Sr.

June 21, 1922 ~ June 2, 2022 (age 99)


Olean- James Charles Lee, Sr., of 802 Main Street, passed away on Thursday (June 2, 2022) at his home, surrounded by his loving family. There’s a little more laughter in Heaven as Jim is now among the angels, joining his beloved wife, Jo and their son, Jim, Jr. His family had planned to celebrate his 100th birthday on June 21, but God had other plans for him.  

James Charles Lee was born in Olean on June 21, 1922. He was the only one of six children of Herbert and Anne Lundy Lee to be born in Olean, and he loved his hometown. Raised in Buffalo, he spent many summers and two school years in Olean due to severe asthma.  The healthier air quality and the bonus of both sets of grandparents living there, made it for an ideal location.  His family returned to Olean after Jim graduated from South Park High School in 1940, and it was his home from then on.

On June 29, 1946 James and Josephine Benca were married in the former Transfiguration Church in Olean. They were married for nearly 67 years until Jo’s death in 2013.

In his early years, Jim and Jo raised their children on Homer Street on Jim’s beloved Homer Hill where he was ‘Y.A.’ to all the neighborhood boys who loved football, and later, official umpire and pitcher for his boys and girls softball teams. He was the bartender at the neighborhood tavern and his tap dancing on Halloween was notorious.

Jim was a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish for some 80 years and was active through the years in the Home School Association; as an usher, a member of the choir, the bereavement committee, and one of the original members of the St. John’s Festa Italiana Committee. Proud of his Irish heritage, Jim was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and visited Ireland with his wife a number of times.  He was a Knight of Columbus, past member of the Olean Exchange Club, and enjoyed playing golf at St. Bonaventure Golf Course until he was 89 years old. He loved walking the course with his friends in the “Geritol Club” and gave up the game only when he could no longer walk the hills there.  For many years, he was an avid bowler with the Elk’s Club. Most of all, he was extremely competitive card player, playing pinochle with “The Card Club”, euchre at the Senior Center and family favorite “Hook” where he was the official scorekeeper and always held the crown.

Jim’s work life was varied and long. As a young man, he worked at Clark Brothers doing time studies. He then worked as the scheduler for Daystrom Furniture. He left Daystrom to take a position in sales for Border Oil Company, and then became co-owner of a carwash and Quaker State station.  He retired for the first time after selling the business, but retirement didn’t last long and Jim then went to work for the Caste Restaurant, managing the laundry service.  A second retirement didn’t last long either. Jim’s last job was with the Exchange Bank of Olean, where he worked into his mid-seventies. He was the popular emcee at the Bank’s Christmas party, and following his retirement, at the annual retirees Christmas gathering.

Survivors include; daughters Nancy Parsons of Lake Monticello, VA and Judith (Brian) Lee-Suda of Olean; grandchildren, Scott (Teresa) Parsons, Tricia (Dave) DiCarlucci, Leslie (Joe) Chambers, and Erin (Tony) DeLusant; nine great-grandchildren, Stephen, Matthew, and Andrew Parsons, Katherine, Meghan, and Rhyan Chambers, Mia DiCarlucci, Anthony and Jack DeLusant; many nieces, nephews, cousins, and countless friends.

In addition to his wife, Jo and son, James Jr., he was predeceased by his brothers, Herbert Lee and William lee; and his sisters, Jeanne lee, Maryanne Lee, and Elizabeth Lee Boso.

Friends will be received at the Guenther Funeral Home, Inc., 1303 E. State Street on Monday from 4-7pm.  Funeral services will be held on Tuesday (June 7, 2022) beginning with a 12:30pm prayer service at the funeral home, followed by a 1pm Mass of Christian Burial at St. John’s Evangelist Church. Burial will follow in St. Bonaventure Cemetery, Allegany.

Memorials, if desired, may be made to St. John’s Evangelist Church, 931 N. Union Street, Olean or to Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, Elm & Carlton Streets, Buffalo, NY 14263.

Online condolences can be expressed at

Memorial Tree
A Memorial Tree was planted for James

We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Guenther Funeral Home, Inc. Olean

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June 6, 2022

4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Guenther Funeral Home, Inc.
1303 East State Street
Olean, NY 14760

Mass of Christian Burial
June 7, 2022

1:00 PM
St. John's Catholic Church (N. Union Street, Olean)
931 N. Union
Olean, NY 14760

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