I received some sad news today. Louis Lee, creator of the Lee Oriental Rock Garden, one of Arizona's most intriguing attractions, has passed away.
I was very lucky to have met Mr. Lee and his wife Esther on my first research trip to Arizona back in September. The Lees sat with me in the shade of their patio and talked with me about how their extraordinary rock garden came to be. Mr. Lee started it in 1958 with just a retaining wall, after which the elaborate assemblage of arches, partitions, shelves and walkways grew out of control over the course of nearly 50 years.
The Lees were very welcoming upon my arrival and were gracious enough to let me wander around the garden by myself for an hour taking photos. Although I've seen dozens of Arizona oddities since, my visit to the Lee home was one of the most enjoyable. It's strange to think now that the portraits I shot during that visit may well have been the last to be taken of Mr. Lee.
Louis Lee died on Tuesday, the 15th. He was 92 years old. Mr. Lee had lived a long and obviously productive life.