SALEM — Chuck Lee, 72, longtime principal of Blanchet School and a founder of the Salem-Keizer School District’s Career and Technical Education Center, died at home from complications of multiple system atrophy Sept. 4, surrounded by family.

Bishop Kenneth Steiner celebrated a funeral Mass at the school. Father Tim Mockaitis, pastor of Queen of Peace, and Msgr. Tim Murphy, president emeritus of Central Catholic High School in Portland, concelebrated.

Bob Weber, president of Blanchet, said he was honored to give the eulogy. “I’ve known and worked with Chuck for nearly 30 years,” he said. “He was such a man of faith, a true servant leader. He had a seamless grace, an attitude of ‘Hey — I’m here to help.”

Mr. Weber said that since Mr. Lee’s death emails have poured into the school from past students and staff, with anecdotes about Mr. Lee and gratitude for his care and leadership.

“Chuck had a significant role in the Catholic community in Oregon,” Mr. Weber said.

Mr. Lee’s widow, Krina Lee, told the Salem Reporter that every Labor Day Mr. Lee would go classroom to classroom, writing each teacher a note to praise them for their ministry at the school.

Much of his service was behind the scenes, and much of it was concerned with the prosaic matter of ensuring that the school was financially stable. “Ego wasn’t in play,” said Mr. Weber. “Chuck didn’t need credit.”

After the rosary and funeral Mass there was a “tailgate” reception.

“It was a hard day for many of us, but it was a good send-off,” said Mr. Weber.

Mr. Lee was born May 18, 1949, in Seattle. His passion for education began early: At 25 he became the youngest principal of a Catholic school in Washington state. He became principal of Valley Catholic and in 1991 shepherded that Beaverton school through its transition from an all-girls school to being coeducational.

While still principal of Valley Catholic he was involved in the discussions and planning to launch Blanchet in 1995.

He left Valley Catholic to take the helm at Blanchet in 1997. He was president of Blanchet 1997-2013.

In 2009, the National Catholic Educational Association recognized Mr. Lee with an award for outstanding leadership and service.

"No one played a bigger role in developing and making Blanchet a success than Chuck," said Mr. Weber.

Mr. Lee’s dedication to education went beyond Blanchet. He served on the Keizer City Council 2001-07 and on the Salem-Keizer School Board 2007-2019, representing Keizer. He helped found the Salem-based Career Technical Educational Education Center, a public-private partnership to help prepare students to work in 10 technical fields as varied as drone technology and robotics to culinary arts.

Mr. Lee was preceded in death by his first wife, Mary.

He is survived by his wife Krini, six children and 11 grandchildren.

Blanchet created the Charles E. Lee Scholarship Program in his honor. Make a one-time online donation or pledge at go.sentinel.org/3kZDUhN or mail a check to Blanchet Catholic School at 4373 Market St NE, Salem, OR 97301. Contact Blanchet President Bob Weber at 503-391-2639 or email bobweber at blanchetcatholicschool.com with questions.