The Rev. William James Lee, the former president of St. Mary's Seminary & University, died of dementia Feb. 19 at St. Martin's Home in Catonsville. He was 89.
Born in Wooster, Ohio, he was a graduate of the old St. Charles College in Catonsville and St. Mary's Seminary. He also studied theology at the Catholic University of America, where he received a master's degree and a doctorate in economics. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1946 in Ohio.
He joined the Society of St. Sulpice in 1949 and held posts in California, Washington state and the District of Columbia before returning to Baltimore. He taught from 1958 to 1969 at the old St. Mary's Seminary on Paca Street, where he also served as dean. He was president of St. Charles College before becoming president of St. Mary's Seminary & University in Roland Park. He held the post from 1972 to 1980.
"In 1975, he constituted a board of trustees for St. Mary's with many lay members," said his order's provincial superior, the Rev. Thomas R. Ulshafer of Baltimore. "This was one of the first, if not the first, board in Catholic seminaries in the United States."
Father Lee was also general treasurer of the Society of St. Sulpice for 20 years and held other positions. He led its Committee for Morally Responsible Investments and was coordinator for the bicentennial history of his province.
A Mass of Christian burial was offered Saturday at the St. Martin's Home Chapel.
He has no immediate survivors.