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.