Shirley Copley Lee passed away on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 in Napa, California at the age of 95. Shirley was born and raised just outside of King City, CA, the youngest daughter of Sam and Alice Copley. She attended a one-room schoolhouse before attending King City High School. Upon graduation, Shirley studied at the French Hospital School of Nursing in San Francisco, CA. After earning her degree in Nursing, Shirley went to work at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, CA, where she eventually became the Operating Room Nursing Supervisor. Shirley returned to her studies to earn her teaching credential and began teaching at Kaiser School of Nursing in Oakland in the mid-1950’s. She also taught in the Berkeley Public School System.
In 1965, Shirley married Ira Lee and was living in Oakland, CA. In 1966, Ira and Shirley purchased a parcel of land in Carneros in Napa Valley and the dream of Lee Vineyards began. After making their move to live in Carneros full time, Shirley taught nursing in the fall of 1967 at Napa Valley College. She retired from teaching in the early 1980’s to begin her second career as an owner of Lee Vineyards alongside her husband, Ira.
Working together among the vines, the dream of Lee Vineyards grew to the present-day 50-acre vineyard in Carneros producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes currently sold to Saintsbury and Starmont Wineries.
Shirley is survived by her daughter, Pamela Lile, and her grandson, Rick Lile, both of Napa, CA, a stepson, Jim Lee, of Henderson, NV, and her very best friend, the overfed orange and white cat named Happy. Also survived by Gonzalo and Elisa Magdaleno, who have been the heart and soul of Lee vineyards for over 40 years. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ira Lee, and her stepdaughter, Diana Lee.
Services will be held on Monday, March 4, 2019 at Tulocay Funeral Home, 411 Coombsville Road, Napa, CA 94559. Viewing will be at 10:00 am with a service at 11:00 am.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the We Care Animal Rescue, 1345 Charter Oak Avenue, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-7044. We Care Animal Rescue is a no-kill, free roaming refuge for cats and dogs in Napa County.