James Donald Lee was born in Alto, Texas on September 7, 1931. In 1942 the family moved to San Angelo, Texas. In July 1951 he enlisted in the US Air Force and was stationed in the Marshall Islands and Anchorage, Alaska. After being discharged from the Air Force, James taught in Albuquerque, NM for three years.
In 1961 he accepted a teaching job with DoDDS. He first taught in Bordeaux, France and subsequently in Paris, Lakenheath, England, Seville, Zarragoza, Frankfurt Germany, Catania, Sicily and Pisa. He retired from the Overseas School System in 1984.
He lived in San Franciso, CA for five years working for the SF American Federation of Teachers. In 1989 he moved to Tangier, Morocco, where he lived for 17 years. During those years he also maintained a residence in Berkeley, CA. In 2006, he became a full-time resident of Palm Springs.
James died at the Desert Regional Memorial Hospital on May 26, 2009 after a lengthy illness.