Secret Lives of Staff: Doug Lee

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

There’s much more to Penn State Behrend’s faculty and staff members than what you see on campus. In this occasional series, we’ll take a look at some of the interesting, unconventional, and inspiring things that members of our Behrend community do in their free time.

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If you’ve ever played or watched sports, you know how emotionally charged the singing of the National Anthem can be. It’s not uncommon to see players and fans moved to tears by The Star Spangled Banner.

Doug Lee, a groundskeeper at Penn State Behrend, is one of those vocalists who can make big, strong ballplayers weep. Lee, who has a bass voice, has sung the National Anthem before several Erie SeaWolves games over the last few years. And, after his Penn State Behrend colleagues found out about his hidden talent, he was asked to sing at a few events on campus, too, including a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association softball tournament.

Lee grew up in a musical household. In fact, his father graduated from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music as a classical pianist.

“There was always music playing at the house,” Lee said. “I was in the church choir and youth choirs from the time I was a boy.”

Lee’s father never pursued music as a career though, choosing instead to work at the family business — a golf course in Hermitage, Pennsylvania.

It was at that course that Lee’s landscaping career took root. He enjoys working outside and has been known to sing a little on the job at Behrend.

“I sing to my headphones a lot,” he says with a laugh.

He also sings to the congregation at Fairview Presbyterian church every Sunday as a member of the church choir.

Asked to recall the first record he ever owned (and, yes, it was all vinyl back then, kids), Lee smiles and says that it was a Grand Funk Railroad 45 rpm record, given to him by his grandparents, who had bought him a “fold-down record player.”

“I think the song was ‘American Band,’” he said. “They had no idea what they were buying. The guy at the record store told them it was popular.”

Today, Lee, who is a husband and father of three (24, 19 and 14), says he likes nearly all genres of music, but prefers alternative or new-age rock. He has an affinity for Matthew Good, a Canadian rock musician, and Mike Oldfield, an English musician who blends progressive rock with world, folk, classical, electronic, ambient, new-age sounds.

But, when he sings, Lee said he sticks to folk music, hymns and, of course, the Star Spangled Banner. “I don’t have a very contemporary voice,” he explains.

While Lee’s voice may not be contemporary, it sure is impressive. Have a listen for yourself – check out his 2011 Erie SeaWolves National Anthem performance:

 

 

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