"He was an excellent science teacher," said Lawrence Johns, who retired in 2000 as principal of Diggs-Johnson Middle School. "Earl was a fantastic friend and a person you could always depend on."

After leaving Lake Clifton, Mr. Lee was principal of Calverton Middle School. From1990 to 1993, he served as principal of Southwestern High School.

For the last seven years of his career before retiring in 2000, he was principal of Francis M. Wood Alternative High School.

Mr. Lee fell in love with a fellow Lake Clifton educator, the former Delphine M. Stanley, whom he married in 1973. She later served as principal at Dunbar and Edmondson high schools before retiring some years ago.

The longtime Pikesville resident, who moved to Owings Mills in 2000, enjoyed playing golf, fishing and attending Ravens games.

Mr. Lee was known as "Uncle Lee."

"Many relied on his advice and wisdom for guidance in various stages of their lives," his son said. "He had an uncanny ability to make those around him laugh, which was another favorite pastime of his."

Services will be held at noon Saturday at Epworth United Methodist Church, 3317 St. Luke's Lane, Woodlawn.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Lee is survived by a brother, Marvin Lee of Chattanooga; a sister, Martha Fletcher of Atlanta; two grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com