Dennis Lee obituary

My grandfather Dennis Lee, who has died aged 91, was a proud Yorkshireman whose love of Shakespeare, opera, jazz and his favourite, Nina Simone, was passed on to his family and friends. He was also passionate about the benefits of education and never stopped learning throughout his life.

Born in Sheffield to Ernest Lee, a miner and steelworker, and Edna (nee Poole), Dennis lived in the city his entire life and survived the blitz.

Dennis attended Chaucer secondary school, leaving at 15 to start on the factory floor at the Batchelor’s foods factory, in Wadsley Bridge. He rose through the ranks to become works manager.

Aged 28, he was diagnosed with Brittle diabetes, which is one of the most difficult forms of the condition to manage, especially so in the early days of insulin research.

He married Barbara Lindley in 1953 and they went on to have two children, Stuart and Denise. When, in 1958, Barbara’s mother died they took in Barbara’s 10-year-old sister, Christine.

They were both loving grandparents and my sisters and I would spend many happy hours at their house. I was there almost every Friday night and my grandfather educated me in literature, opera, jazz and – as I got older – late night comedy on BBC Two.

Dennis left Batchelor’s in 1987 and worked at Corus Steel as a manager until his retirement in 1995.

An ardent Labour supporter, Dennis was not a materialistic man and jokes were made in the family about the creaking of his wallet when he finally opened it. But when there was real need he was generous to a fault, rescuing his brother from debt and putting money aside to help me with the costs of university.

In retirement he was a keen fisherman and would take part in local competitions. He enjoyed the theatre and would take us to see opera, musicals, and plays by Pinter and Shakespeare. He loved watching snooker every year at the Crucible theatre.

As he entered his 80s his diabetes caused more difficulties. Many doctors expressed surprise that he had lasted as long as he had and in 2019 he was awarded the Robert Lawrence medal for having lived with diabetes for 60 years.

Barbara died in 1999. He is survived by his children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.