Dong Hwan Lee, a securities salesman who began his career in Baltimore and rose to become a Wall Street sales director, died of cancer April 11 at his Manhattan home. The former Lutherville resident was 37.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, he was the son of Myungock Ro, a nurse, and Kwang Sung Lee, a restaurateur and shop owner. Raised in Cockeysville, he attended Padonia Elementary and Cockeysville Middle schools and was a 1994 Dulaney High School graduate.
"Dong was always good in math," said his sister, Kellie Lee, who lives in Owings Mills. "He had a core group of buddies who grew over the years. He had a wicked sense of humor and was savvy in business, but he was also incredibly generous to those friends and to his family, too."
As an 18-year-old, he started work as a busboy at the Peppermill restaurant on York Road in Lutherville to help pay education bills.
"He was the guy I called when I needed anything important," said Richard "Rich" Otremba, a Peppermill bartender and close friend. "Dong would be there."
He said that Mr. Lee soon became a waiter and developed a reputation for his mathematics prowess among the restaurant's employees.
"There was a server here who was going back to college and she was having trouble," said Mr. Otremba. "Dong sat down and tutored her. He was definitely the smartest guy in the room, but he never talked condescendingly."
Mr. Lee joined Legg Mason in June 2000 and rose to become a vice president of institutional sales.
"Dong worked for my team. He started in a junior role but worked extremely hard to become an institutional sales person," said Tom Hirschmann, Legg Mason's head of U.S. sales, who lives in Baltimore. "Dong was respected and loved by the entire team. He remained very close with our group after he left us."
He developed a wide circle of friends. A group of them shared a home on Montgomery Street in Federal Hill. They traveled together and played games of pickup basketball.
"I met Dong as a 7-year-old, and 30 years later we are still friends," said Aaron Wade of White Marsh. "He was a guy people would warm to quickly. He was engaging, friendly and nonjudgmental. He wasn't always the center of the action, but he was sure around the action."
Mr. Lee left Legg Mason in 2008 and joined the Vanguard Group in Philadelphia, where he worked until 2011. He then moved to New York and joined WallachBeth Capital as its director of institutional sales.
"Dong had an analytical mind," said his brother-in-law, John Fisher of Owings Mills. "It motivated his career choices. He liked to dissect what made things work and use what he discovered in that process. He took his findings and used them to the betterment of his clientele."
Friends said that after moving, Mr. Lee retained his close friendships and ties to Baltimore.
While in New York, he met Megan Scott, a vice president of e-commerce firm BeautySage.
"He saw the real side of things," said Ms. Scott, his companion. "And he took a lot on by himself in his own stoic way. He approached his work seriously but was not caught up in all the monetary side of it. He wanted to do a good job and do it from the best angle."
Friends said that Mr. Lee enjoyed playing basketball. As a young man, he was active in taekwondo and remained a fantasy football enthusiast.
An Orioles and Ravens fan, he attended Super Bowls, played golf and was a spectator at PGA tournaments. He recently traveled to the Napa Valley. He used his travel to learn about cultures.
Mr. Lee, who was diagnosed in April 2012 with the cancer that took his life, continued to work.
"Dong had a laid-back personality," said Matt Mugno, a friend for 25 years who lives in Timonium. "He told me, 'I've made some money on Wall Street, but some of the best times I had were working a shift at the Peppermill and having a few beers after work.' "
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Peaceful Alternatives, 2325 York Road in Timonium.
In addition to his sister and companion, survivors include his mother, who lives in Lutherville; his father; his stepmother, Jo Lee; and two brothers, Thomas Lee and Jason Lee, all of Ellicott City.