Janet G. Lee
Janet G. Lee once mentioned in a BYU devotional that she had lived in twenty different homes. Those homes have included New Jersey, Arizona, Utah, and Mexico. While living in Mexico as a young woman, because her father was working for the United States Embassy there, Janet Griffin met a missionary from Arizona named Rex Lee, who was serving in the area. She later attended Brigham Young University, where she became re-acquainted with him. The morning after their first date, Rex and his roommate called her and sung a rather strange song to her over the phone. They meant it as a compliment, but she wasn’t sure how to take it. She recalls that she almost said no to any further dates, but thankfully kept an open mind about this young man and continued to get to know him. They fell in love, were married the following year, and have been a team ever since.
Sister Lee graduated from BYU with a degree in elementary education and worked as a teacher and consultant for public schools. Eventually, her full-time job became the nurturing of her seven children—five daughters and two sons—and the support of her husband through a very demanding career in law, public service, scholarship, and administration. A few of the Lee children had the opportunity to introduce their parents during BYU devotionals, and their respect and love for them is ever apparent, as is the fact that humor was an important part of family life: one son joked about her need for cleanliness, while a daughter teased her for leaving her in a grocery store once. Another daughter, however, more seriously commented that each of the Lee children felt as though they were secretly their parents’ favorite, because of the individual love and care given to them.
Throughout her life, Janet G. Lee has been devoted to serving others. She has served in many civic and community service positions, as well as given hours of time to service and leadership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When Rex Lee became the tenth president of Brigham Young University, she served as part of the honor code advisory council and gave many thoughtful and inspired addresses to BYU students.
Janet G. Lee’s unwavering support of her family was never more evident than when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. He said, after the intense chemotherapy sessions were over, that her diligent care astonished him. She would never leave the hospital, no matter how many hours or days he was there. She also became known, from the words of her son, as a “freelance oncologist” because of her study and understanding of Rex’s health and her frequent conferral with doctors concerning his condition and treatment.
Janet G. Lee is a woman of endurance. A long-distance runner like her husband, she has spent many years running with him and has completed marathons. That endurance took on new meaning during her husband’s illness and as she coped with his death in 1996. It is also clear in her many devotional addresses. She frequently speaks of faith and humility and of learning to see ourselves and others as the Lord sees us. Her warmth and love for her family, for BYU students, and for everyone is instructive and inspiring.