By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
A beloved volunteer of the Danny Woo Community Garden, Bill Lee, will be remembered on Saturday, July 16 at noon—fittingly at the same garden where he spent so much time.
Lizzy Baskerville is the garden manager at Danny Woo.
“[Bill] was the first person to show me the ins and outs of that garden, and he loved it with his whole heart. Even after he stopped working at the garden, he continued to come back to help me fix leaky pipes or carry chicken feed up the hill.”
Most people we interviewed about Lee’s passing called attention to his love of the InterIm’s annual Pig Roast at the garden.
“[The late] Bob Santos told me to be in charge of the pig roast,” Lee once told Northwest Asian Weekly publisher Assunta Ng. Lee had been volunteering for it for close to two decades.
“He would take care of setting up the roasting pit, and would set himself up to turn the spit for hours and hours… this is like from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m,” said Baskerville. “He was so dedicated to that spit. He just kept drinking energy drinks and coffee all night long to cook that pig. One of the best memories I have of him is us being completely delirious during the wee hours of the Pig Roast because we hadn’t slept at all.”
Lee was also a member of the International District Emergency Center (IDEC) and volunteered at community events when it did not conflict with his work schedule.
Richard “Dicky” Mar, who once served as IDEC’s board chair, said Lee lowered the flag at Hing Hay Park to half staff following the murder of Donnie Chin, and he continued to do so every year on the anniversary of Chin’s death. Chin founded IDEC.
Mar said that Lee was most recently employed with the Seattle Parks Department as a park concierge. Mar called Lee “a tremendous asset to IDEC operations” because of his employment with the Parks Department for events that occurred in Hing Hay Park. He lost both positions during the Covid shutdowns, according to Mar.
“My office is right off of Hing Hay Park, and before the pandemic, we used to see Bill almost every day,” said Jamie Lee, director of community initiatives at SCIDpda. “He was one of those people you could always count on—we will miss him immensely.”
InterIm’s Deputy Director Tom Im said, “Bill Lee worked dedicatedly to make our piece of the City a better place.”
This was a thought echoed by state Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos.
“Bill was a kind and generous man who was devoted to the well-being of the Chinatown International District and to the people who live, work, and sustain our community. He was always around to lend a helping hand and keep a watchful eye out at every community event. I am grateful to have known him and to call him a friend.”
Baskerville shared more of her favorite memories.
“We were moving buckets of compost tea around in the garden and we smelled like rotting garbage for the rest of the day.
Another is when we buried his favorite chicken, Diva, under an Asian Pear tree and shared that moment together. He was a lover of animals and was a very sensitive person.”
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.