Alabama Academy of Honor

Alice Finch Lee

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in October 2012.

Alice Finch Lee was the first of four children born to Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Finch Lee. Born in Bonifay, Florida, on September 11, 1911, she described herself as the only alien-born member of her family, and one who at this stage of her life is struck with a birthday remembrance in infamy -- September 11.

The Lee family moved to Monroeville, Alabama, before she was two years old. She graduated from Monroe County High School in 1928, at the age of 16, and attended Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, in the 1928-29 academic year. Two factors brought her home at the end of her first year in college -- the beginning of the Great Depression and her fatherís purchase of the Monroe Journal. She worked at the newspaper for seven years. During that time, she held all the jobs at the Journal.

In April 1937, Lee went to Birmingham to work for the Internal Revenue Service in the newly created Social Security Division. From 1939-43, she attended night school at the Birmingham School of Law with the hope of advancing through the ranks of the IRS. She had noticed that the people who were advancing all had law degrees. She was one of only four law students taking the bar exam in July 1943, and the only woman among the group.

In January 1944, she left Birmingham and returned to Monroeville to practice law with her father (her idol and role model) in the law firm of Barnett, Bugg & Lee, presently Barnett, Bugg, Lee & Carter, LLC. Leaving the IRS and returning home was a tough decision for both Lee and her father. She loved Birmingham and the wonderful life she had there, and her father did not want her to feel obligated to take over the family firm. But she packed her bags, came home to Monroeville, and was happy with her decision ever since. Remarkably, she worked every day for the next sixty-seven years, until mid-November 2011. A couple of months earlier, she had marked another significant milestone in her life -- her 100th birthday!

Lee became treasurer of the American Red Cross in Monroe County during World War II and remained in that position for many years. Even with all her other work, she became the first night-shift Pink Lady at Monroe County Hospital to reach five hundred hours of service. She served for many years as a member of the board of directors and as bank attorney for the Monroe County Bank. Since the early 1950s, she hds been the legal counsel to the First Methodist Church of Monroeville. She worked in the Methodist Church for more than half a century and was a member all of her adult life. She taught an adult Sunday School class for forty-four years, and noted not too long ago that she held all of the offices in the Methodist Church, except for that of pastor.

Just as her father was a role model to her, Lee was an inspiration to countless others throughout her life. She encouraged numerous young people to continue their educations and was instrumental in the careers of several female lawyers. Lee even inspired her legal secretary to later become her law partner. Alice Finch Lee became an Alabama institution, and a respected and revered member of her community and her profession.

In 1984, Huntingdon College presented her with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Alice Finch Lee died in Monroeville on November 17, 2014.