Lee Braithwaite

Lee Braithwaite (Braithwaite)

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1936 – 2020

Lee F. Cox Braithwaite, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend, passed away on Friday, September 18th from the effects of aging.

Lee was born on September 26, 1936, in Provo, Utah to Leonard and Violet Braithwaite. He enjoyed growing up with his brother Dale and sisters Ruthmary, Kathleen, and Rosemarie on West Center Street near his grandparents. Lee was particularly fond of Grandfather Cox and later in life chose to include “Cox” as his legal middle name.

As a teen, Lee discovered the wonders of marine biology and eventually set out with uncharacteristic boldness to explore the California coast. This excursion served to feed his curiosity further and propelled him into formal academic studies at Brigham Young University, Stanford University, University of the Pacific, and University of Hawaii, where he specialized in marine biology, paleontology, and invertebrate zoology. His love for BYU and teaching beautifully merged into a professorial career that spanned over 50 years where he was recognized for his excellence in teaching and mentoring students. A unique part of his teaching experience included taking BYU students to various West Coast marine station locations such as the Gulf of California, the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories, Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, and the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, for hands-on learning and marine life observation. Whether on campus or on the coast, students often endearingly referred to “Dr. B” and especially marveled at his famous spider dance lecture. One of his most memorable professional adventures involved deep sea submersible studies in the Bahamas.

BYU also offered the life-changing opportunity for young Lee to meet Judith Johns. When assigned to work together in mosquito abatement research, Lee and Judy soon began dating and married on June 12, 1959 in the Los Angeles California Temple. Lee lovingly referred to his wife as “My Judy” and together they had 10 children: five boys and five girls. As a father, Lee provided quiet moments of teaching and somehow managed to make each of his children feel like they were his special favorite. He valued his roles as husband, father, and grandfather. Family gatherings often featured homemade treats such as ice cream churned by hand in an antique ice cream maker and root beer prepared in a handcrafted container with an antique tap. Lee expressed his love to his family through tickles, thoughtful personalized gifts and gestures, and a triple squeeze or wink which was his code language for “I love you.” When asked recently by his family what he most wanted for his upcoming 84th birthday next week, his earnest response was, “For everyone to be happy.”

Lee taught his family the cherished gift of faith and gospel living. He served in many varied assignments and leadership callings. He shared one of his most favored service opportunities with Judy at the Provo Missionary Training Center. He prepared many inspiring church talks in beautiful hand-printed calligraphy and bore thoughtful sweet testimony in word and action. Many will remember the frequent reference to Lee’s childhood commitment to “be a good boy” that he included in talks throughout his lifetime. Lee expected the best of himself and gently encouraged others to be their best as well.

Lee is survived by his wife Judy, and his ten children: Brent (Kent Weigle) Braithwaite, Lynette (Ron) Gordon, Julee Braithwaite, Ellen (Manny) Kepas, Brian (Jenny) Braithwaite, Marc (Becky) Braithwaite, Bruce (Jessica) Braithwaite, Nathan (Suki) Braithwaite, Cheralyn Braithwaite, Heather (Rick) Bastian, 41 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and his sister Rosemarie. He is preceded in death by his parents, his brother Dale, and his sisters Ruthmary and Kathleen.

If you wish to honor Lee by attending a visitation, please do so according to proper COVID protocols by wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing. The visitation will be held on Tuesday, September 22nd from 6:00-8:00pm at the Walker Sanderson Funeral Home, 656 East 800 North, Orem. A family graveside service will be held on Wednesday, September 23rd at 11:00am at Provo Cemetery.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 | 6:00pm - 8:00pm
    Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 6:00pm - 8:00pm
    Walker Sanderson Funeral Home
    646 East 800 North
    Orem, UT 84097
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Family Graveside

    Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020 | 11:00am
    Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020 11:00am
    Provo City Cemetery
    610 South State Street
    Provo 84606


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John D. Zardus

Posted at 01:33pm
Dear Braithwaite family, thank you for sharing your husband/father/grandfather with me and so many others over the years. Despite the sorrow and loss that his passing has sent around the country, I am grateful for the life that he lived so well. I was an undergraduate and graduate student at BYU studying under Dr. B. in the mid to late 80’s. His quiet, unassuming, and shy personality belied what a powerhouse of knowledge and inspiration he was. I spent several transformative summers with him at Hopkins Marine Station, diving for barnacles and assisting with teaching and then I went on to carry out my thesis research at Friday Harbor. Of course he ruined teaching for me, after his technicolor chalk lectures, no one since has matched his mastery of the endeavor, including myself. I remember the feeling in his classes of having the top half of my cranium lifting open and information gushing in. Information that was true, rich, and satisfying, like a flashflood in a parched desert. In his gentle and quiet way, Lee unlatched the shutters to a grand view of an astonishing world for countless students. I am grateful for his curiosity and courage to share it with me and others. His skill and patience in the laboratory was also legendary. Angling to get just the right photograph or finessing the adjustment of a contraption to carry out an experiment, he always strived for excellence. Perhaps his greatest gift was the ability to share his appreciation of the elusive beauty of the watery natural world. A professional marine biologist and professor now myself, I model much of what I do after him but still struggle to equal his skill and artistry. Though I never really thought about barnacles before that first summer in Pacific Grove, serendipitously, my research and life still revolves around them. I hope as I carry on the tradition of leading students out into nature, that shutters continue to open. My favorite mental image of Lee is of him standing, hip-wader deep, camera tripod in hand, in a bed of kelp at Pescadero Point, hunting for those shy, exquisite creatures, as quiet and unpretentious as he. I know that Lee’s inspiring kindness and care for the people around him lives on in his family and I trust and hope that through the many students that he touched, his legacy of learning will continue to flow out and enlighten the world. I am eternally grateful for and indebted to him for his influence on my life and I honor him for the great mentor that he was.

John D. Zardus
Professor, The Citadel, Dept. of Biology
Charleston, SC

Bruce C Stone, DO

Posted at 02:46am
I am not sure but after Stephen Shroeder, PHD, I believe Roger Goodwill, PhD and I were early graduate students of Dr. Braithwaite. I just learned of his death today from Dr.Craig Young at the University of Oregon, since my daughter is in his ward in Coos Bay. I am saddened to hear of the struggle he had in the last 2-3 years but know he is in a better place. Saying goodbye is always difficult, but Dr. Braithwaite will always be one of the most influential and great people in my life! I could go on and on, but will share just one story. I am one of the few graduate students that did not stay in the biological field, but instead went to medical school and eventually became a urologist. I was almost embarrassed to leave the fold as it were, but he later told me that when I came along, there were not as many opportunities in marine biology as later opened up. But on one visit to his office before he retired ( I always loved his office!), as we were about to depart, i stuck out my hand to shake his. He gave me a funny look and then surprised me with a bear hug! This was my mentor, my professor! I did not expect that! Then he said, "When men get older, they can get grumpy or mellow. I like mellow!" I thought to myself, "...always the teacher!" I came away withs that good feeling that he always left you with! I have always thought that teaching can be a great profession because you can influence so many people. Fifty years of teaching, the numbers cannot be counted. Not to mention, a great husband father and disciple of Jesus Christ! We will always love and miss him until its our turn to progress. Bruce C. Stone, DO, 22 September 2020.

Randy Day

Posted at 02:05am

Dr. B. was my advisor and mentor in the 1970's. The most important experience of my undergraduate years at BYU was my summer trip to Friday Harbor. In later years as I returned to Friday Harbor Labs I always felt a calm and peace that Dr. B. personified. Through my graduate studies and as a a professor I always considered Dr. B. as the consummate role model. Oh, and who can forget the 'dance of the bumblebee' !

Nikki Taylor

Posted at 11:35pm
How I loved my Dr. B! I spent the summer of 1997 with him at Hopkin's Marine Station. I have so many wonderful memories of that summer. I remember that Dr. B would make us delicious clam chowder and pancakes in the lab on a hot plate! He would recite poetry and read books to our class by the seashore. I remember Pescadero Point being one of his favorite places and him taking us there to hunt for beautiful creatures in the tide pools. In March of 2019 I was able to take my entire family back to Pacific Grove (I have three kids now aged 16, 13, and 9)! I hadn't been there since I left at the end of summer in 1997. I showed them Hopkins Marine Station, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Asilomar Beach, The Fish Wife, and many other places that Dr. B took us. We waded through the tide pools and I taught my kids all the scientific names of the invertebrates that lived there (I was surprised that I remembered most of their names). My kids can't wait to go back again! We are going on a family trip to Hawaii this March to enjoy and study the ocean more. Dr. B's love of the ocean is spreading through generations! I will always remember him most for his gentle nature and kindness. I'm pretty sure I got into graduate school because of his letter of recommendation. He was such a great man and I am thankful for the positive influence and joy he brought to my life. Thank you for sharing Dr. B with us! Sending much love to your family at this time. Nikki Fife Taylor (Dr. B's student from 1995-1998).

Linda J Bailey

Posted at 07:15pm
In my 70+ years of life I have forgotten many places and people, but the vision of Dr. B creating his colored chalk illustrations as he lectured in the HFAC's DeJong concert hall is a lasting memory. "Chalk" me up as one more student who was inspired and encouraged by him to make science a vocation and avocation all these years.
Linda Johnson Bailey
Alamo, California

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