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2019 Heritage Award honors mother and son legacy

Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) friends Marguerite Lee and son John Lee received the 2019 Heritage Award. The award is among the highest of honors given to a North Carolina Baptist.

“Occasionally, you meet people that you just enjoy being around. They make you feel good with their smile, radiance, charisma, and abiding goodwill. Such a person is Marguerite Lee,” BCH president/CEO Michael C. Blackwell said of the 91-year-old family matriarch and member of First Baptist Church in Wilson.

This year’s awards were presented to a wide array of recipients recognized by BCH and fellow North Carolina Baptist organizations at the annual ceremony. The event was held on April 9 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro.

Marguerite Lee and her late husband James L. (Jim) Lee moved to Elm City where Jim established Lee Motor Company. At Elm City Baptist Church, she first became involved with BCH as she worked with young children and collected pennies in baby food jars to be delivered to Kennedy Home, BCH’s second oldest location in Kinston.

Later, when Lee worked with older children in her church, she and others provided more tangible things for the children to use and enjoy.

“Her legacy of support and encouragement for all BCH ministries continues full steam ahead with her son John F. Lee,” Blackwell said.

Today, the mantle of personal involvement with the family business has been officially passed from mother to son. He serves as the president of Lee Motor Group, as the company is now called.

John Lee is also carrying on his mother’s legacy in carrying out BCH’s mission of “sharing hope. . .changing lives.” He is a BCH trustee and former Chairman of the Board. He was also an active leader in two BCH capital campaigns.

“My mother has lived a life of serving others, especially those who cannot help themselves. This award is a testament to her heart, her character and her soft spot for children,” Lee said.

“I owe my involvement with BCH to my mother. As her son, I have seen her heart for improving children’s lives through her prayers and support, and that same desire to help has been passed from her to me.

“I love her, and I am so proud of her.”

John and his mother are close. The two share breakfast every Saturday morning where John brings his mother up to date about the latest happenings in the family’s company. They operate multiple dealerships in North and South Carolina.

“Both mother and son are inspirational servant leaders,” Blackwell said. “We love them, claim them and celebrate them through the privilege of presenting them with our Baptist Children’s Homes Baptist Heritage Award for 2019.”

The Baptist Heritage Award recognizes individuals who represent exemplary service and giving to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) or an organization associated with the Convention. It is jointly co-sponsored by BSCNC and the North Carolina Baptist Foundation.

Read more Baptist Children's Homes' stories at

Article by Blake Ragsdale, BCH Director of Communications

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