Johnny “John” Michael Lee Jr., 47, of Elizabeth Colorado, lost his battle against mental illness on January 18, 2024. John was a beautiful person inside and out who had been struggling for many years with PTSD and depression. How do you make sense of the nonsensical? Explain the inexplicable? I don’t know. I can’t. He was here and now he isn’t. His contagious smile could light up the whole room, and his big heart cared so deeply for the people around him, even those he may only know for a moment. He was kind and compassionate and made an impact on so many lives. He will be forever missed.
John was born on November 2, 1976, to Johnny M. Lee Sr and Barbara A. Norsworthy Lee in Conway, South Carolina. He graduated from Aynor High School in 1995 and then went on to Kemper Military College in Boonville, Missouri, where he received an Associate of Arts in Military Science in 1997. He then received a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration from Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri in 2000. In 2018 John earned a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction through Colorado Chrisitan University. With a degree in hand, he taught criminal justice at Johnson and Wales as an adjunct professor from 2014-2021 and with Maryland Global Campus from 2021 until the present.
While in high school, John was a volunteer firefighter with the Horry County Fire Department, which is how he met his high school sweetheart, who would become his second wife, Dawn-Marie. He was a member of the ROTC, announced the baseball games for the Aynor Blue Jackets, worked at the Pavillion Amusement Park in Myrtle Beach, and enlisted with the Army National Guard. While in Missouri for college, John worked as a bouncer and a dishwasher. He also worked as a corrections officer at the Missouri State Penitentiary. It was in Missouri that John met his first wife, Deanna, and the decision was made to move to Colorado to be closer to her family. Throughout that time, he remained in the Army and served in field artillery until he was honorably discharged at the rank of Second Lieutenant.
John was hired by the Aurora Police Department (APD) in 2001 and held the rank of Officer from 2001 until his promotion to Agent in 2007. During his twenty years with APD, John was assigned as a patrol officer and traffic officer prior to his promotion to Agent. After his promotion, John was a detective assigned to the Economic Crimes Unit. There was a short stint in the Public Information Office where he redesigned the Police Department’s web page. John then went back to the Traffic Unit as a Detective. John was assigned to the Detective Bureau as a Computer Forensic Examiner, and he was detailed to the FBI at their Regional Computer Forensic Lab. When John’s detail to the FBI was over, John went back to the Detective Bureau where he was assigned to the Economic Crimes Unit and still got to do his computer forensics. John was assigned to the Professional Standards Section as a Database Administrator for a software program the Department was using. John’s final assignment in the Police Department was at the Police Academy as the Administrator of the Learning Management System and Curriculum Designer. In his role at the Academy, John maintained the learning management system, trained users in the use of the software, provided technical support, was responsible for directing, filming, and editing training videos, and was an Academy Instructor. He was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Brotherhood for the Fallen, and the APD Honor Guard. As if John wasn’t busy enough working his regular job, he picked up many secondary employment jobs. His two favorites, which he did for many years, were directing traffic in front of High Point Academy and security for Project Christmas Child.
After retiring on a Friday in October 2021 from APD, John began working the following Monday for the City of Aurora within the Human Resources Department as their Learning Management System Administrator.
If you knew John at all, you know he had many interests and hobbies. John was proud of his time as a scout parent and became the Cub Master of the High Point Academy Pack 501 from March 2010 to February 2013, then stepped down and became Assistant Cub Master and a scout leader through 2014. He also served as a district committee member and member at large with the district council during that time. He remained on the APD honor guard after retirement and continued to serve whenever needed. He LOVED to grill, smoke, and BBQ but joked that he didn’t know how to cook inside of a kitchen unless it was his “famous” crockpot chili. He loved music of all kinds, was a ham radio operator, photographer, FAA 107 certified drone pilot, guitarist, fisherman, hunter, camper, geocacher, and the owner of a menagerie of pets that have included dogs, cats, horses, goats, chickens, snakes, turtles, tarantulas, leopard geckos, and fish of all varieties. One consistent hobby was riding motorcycles. He had ridden with the ST owners, earned a butt burner award, and rode with the patriot guard. Since 2017, he has been a member of the Christian Motorcyclists Association Chapter 889 and was elected and served as vice president from 2020-2022.
John is survived by his bride, Dawn-Marie Lee, and a blended family of four children: John Vitale, Zachary Lee, Tyler Lee, and Adam Lee; and two grandchildren, Delilah Vitale and Natalie Lee. John is also survived by his parents, Barbara Norsworthy Lee, Johnny M. Lee Sr., Debra Lee, and his siblings, Greg Lee, Danny Mishoe, Natasha Seymour, Naomi Boyd, and Philip Lee, as well as his first wife, Deanna Herring.
Services will be held at Colorado Community Church on February 7, 2024. The viewing will begin at 10:00 and services at 11:30. Immediately following the services will be a reception of family and friends with a light lunch provided. During that time, John will be escorted by the Christian Motorcyclists Association to Horan & McConaty.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Brotherhood for the Fallen Colorado or the Christian Motorcyclist Association Colorado Youth Movement. These are both organizations that John felt strongly about.
True love stories don’t have endings. I love you more today than I did yesterday and less than I will tomorrow. I’ll love you for a thousand more.