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Lee's star shining bright

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
The Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce will present Speers Mayor Bill Lee with its top honor, the Shining Star Award, on Sept. 12, 2013, Lee is shown at Speers Park on July 16, 2013.

Bill Lee was doing considerable traveling for his job in the pharmaceutical industry when he made a decision to come home.

He took a job at Lee Supply in Charleroi, dedicating himself to his family and his community.

He has remained committed to both. He is a volunteer for several organizations. His three grown children are raising families within a few miles of his home.

Lee's devotion to the community and his family hasn't gone unnoticed.

Lee will receive the Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce's top honor, the Shining Star Award, during its annual awards event.

The event will be held at Monongahela Valley Hospital's Anthony Lombardi Education Conference Center on Sept. 12.

The Shining Star is given to the individual who displays “outstanding personal and professional attributes.”

“This award goes to a chamber member who shows a commitment to his or her vocation, helps to advance the mission of the Mon Valley Regional Chamber, and promotes the Mid Mon Valley community at large,” said Debbie Keefer, executive director of the Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Lee started his professional career in education, teaching and coaching at Monongahela High School from 1967 to 1968.

In October 1968, Lee was offered a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Syntax.

He would later serve as a district sales manager for Boehringer Ingelheim Limited.

On April 1, 1980, Lee joined his cousins, Mike and David, at Lee Supply in Charleroi.

“I was doing a tremendous amount of traveling, and with three kids at home, so it gave me an opportunity to spend more time with my family,” Lee said.

He helped Lee Supply develop and market to the environmental market.

“When I started at Lee Supply, 96 percent our business was in the coal industry,” Lee said. “When I left, 51 percent of our business was in coal. I helped them diversify. I was their environmental sales manager for the past 20 years.”

Lee only “semi-retired” on April 1, 2010, his 30th anniversary with the company. He remains a consultant for Lee Supply.

Lee said he was proud to work for the company which bore the family name, but added, “I treated every company as if I owned it.”

Lee said he is “honored” to receive the award.

“I am aware of some of the previous recipients who were involved with the chamber and trying to make the Valley a better place to live in,” Lee said.

Lee has been very involved in the community. He is a member of the executive board of the Mon Valley Progress Council, a member of the Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the board of the Authority of the Borough of Charleroi.

As mayor of Speers Borough, Lee is “heavily involved in trying to improve situations in the Valley.”

Lee said his proudest moment in public service was the formation of the Charleroi Regional Police Department, serving Charleroi, North Charleroi, Speers and Twilight.

He also enjoys working with the Mon Valley Progress Council and its efforts to bring business to the Valley.

“I have a great deal of admiration for (Mon Valley Progress Council Executive Director) Joe Kirk and the work he has done,” Lee said.

Lee also volunteers for Meals on Wheels and helps at the Charleroi Food Bank. He is the designated grass cutter at Mary, Mother of the Church in Charleroi.

Lee lives in Speers with his wife, Mary Lou. He said he made an impression upon his children about the importance of community.

His son, Billy Lee, lives in Speers. His daughter, Michelle and her husband, Joe Schwerha, reside in Twilight with their four children, as does his son, Michael Patrick Lee and wife, Stacey, and their three children.

Other Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce award recipients are:

• Outstanding Business Development Award — World Kitchen, Charleroi plant. This award recognizes a chamber member who has “successfully expanded its product lines and/or facilities and has shown significant growth and employment.” This award also recognizes leadership and the entrepreneurial spirit of the principals of the organization.

• Excellence In Business Award — Shamrock Chemical of Charleroi. This award recognizes a member business that “continually and consistently provides its customers with outstanding products and/or services.” Demonstrated longevity is an important aspect that the chamber of commerce wishes to recognize, and considers businesses operating for 20 years or more.

• Regional Service Award — Community Action Southwest of Charleroi. The chamber “recognizes local organizations and institutions that contribute to the quality of life in the Mid-Mon Valley.” Human services, educational, recreational, cultural and economic development entities are among those considered for this award.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or