Obituary: Photographer recorded island hockey for 30 years

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Gordon Lee, a sports photographer who recorded Vancouver Island minor and junior B hockey for over 30 years, has passed away.

Lee, 65, was found dead in his apartment on October 16. An autopsy determined that he had died of internal bleeding.

Lee was one of the two sons of Yut Chor and Chung Mee Lee, who ran several grocery stores in Victoria for about 50 years, including Wall’s Food Market, at the corner of Fernwood and Bay streets, from 1961 to 1989.

Her brother, Wyman, who is 11 months older, said working 12 hours a day, seven days a week to help their parents instilled a work ethic in them that has remained in them all their lives.

For Gordon, that translated into hours spent taking professional-quality photographs.

“My brother was a control freak with his job. He wouldn’t just take a hit or two from a player – he would take 20. He was right over it, ”Lee said. “He then edited every shot, producing pro-level NHL photographs – for minor or junior players. It was crazy. “

Gordon Lee developed an interest in photography in high school and received formal training at the now closed Western Academy of Photography.

Over the past 36 years, he has taken all types of photography, from early weddings to dog shows and modern dance. But he will be remembered by generations of sports fans and players for his sports photographs, especially Junior B hockey on Vancouver Island.

“He was everywhere,” said Norm Kelly, owner of the Saanich Predators. “I saw him in every game, in every tournament, no matter the weather. I would see it at Panorama [Recreation Centre]. I would see it at Archie Browning and – I go out here myself – at all the Victoria Salsa games.

“I would sometimes buy him a coffee after seeing him shake after spending hours at a game. Then, right after the game, he set up his table to sell his photos. I wouldn’t be surprised if he took a photo of every kid who has ever played hockey at a local tournament. The kids really enjoyed it.

Kelly remembers Lee taking the time to clean the glass in the end zones before a game in order to get clearer images. “He also had a great memory – he remembered everyone,” Kelly said.

The photographer’s passion for sports was noticed by various local clubs, and he became the official photographer for the Peninsula Panthers team in 1999.

“I think he never got married because he was married at his job,” said Pete Zubersky, general manager of the Peninsula Panthers Junior Hockey Club. “He was a real artist, someone who could capture the essence of the game in one fell swoop. Hockey and lacrosse are the hardest sports to shoot, with not always good lighting and fast players. Despite all of this, Gordon has still managed to take some amazing shots during his 22 years with the club.

Zubersky estimates that Lee has taken hundreds of thousands of pictures during his 30-year career.

“About five or six years ago, I noticed that Gordon had bought a new camera. I asked him about it and he told me it wasn’t because he needed an upgrade – he had just worn out his old camera.

Wyman Lee says browsing his brother’s prolific collection of photos is a daunting task.

“Each photo is cataloged. But there are stacks of boxes in the studio – all lined up – that I have to go through. Some have envelopes that probably contain negatives, as well as compact discs and hard drives. He never married, but I know he died doing what he loved – until the end.

Gordon Lee is survived by his mother and brother, both of whom live in Victoria. Some members of his extended family reside in Vancouver. Due to concerns over large public gatherings, the family is postponing any memorial service to a later date.

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