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Jessie Lee Andrews was born in Fordyce, Arkansas on January 10, 1941 to Mr. Isadore Andrews and Ms. Clara (Brox) Andrews. At an early age, the family moved to Portland, OR – a place that Jessie considered his home. The young family lived in many parts of the Portland area including Guilds Lake, and different neighborhoods in historically black North Portland. Jessie Lee (as he was often called) attended Boise Elementary and subsequently graduated from Jefferson High School at the age of 18 in 1959.
As a young man, Jessie Lee worked steadily at places including Ellis Cleaners, Directors Furniture, Fuller Glue Company, and Sheraton Hotel Lloyd Center – under the direction of famed Chef Horst Mager (of Der Rhinelander fame). In his spare time, Jessie Lee enjoyed hunting and was a member of the Black Hunting Club of Portland.
Jesse Lee met a young Charlene Paden on G-Street in North Portland in 1959 (even though they were both from Arkansas). After a short courtship, they were married in Oct 1960. Shortly thereafter they welcomed their first child Vicki Mechelle on Oct 18, 1961. Sons Darrell Lee (born July 12 1965) and Damon Leon (born Oct 3, 1967) completed their family. In 1968, Jessie Lee and Charlene realized that they would be happier and healthier apart so they separated and later divorced. But that was not the end of their story…
Jessie Lee moved to Fresno in the early 70’s but returned to Portland before the decade ended. After returning to Portland, Jessie and Charlene reunited briefly. While they never were able to recapture the magic of their early time together, Jessie Lee and Charlene became very good friends and remained so throughout the rest of Jessie Lee’s life.
Jessie Lee was a smart, intelligent man who loved reading business magazines and learning about most any subject. Among his favorite magazines were Fortune, Business Week, and Forbes. Jessie Lee also had a great appetite for current events and news.
Jessie Lee was always a sharp dressed man. He appreciated nice clothes and liked to always look handsome and ‘GQ.’ Whether he was out on the town wearing a full-length ‘Shaft-like’ leather coat or relaxing at home in a ‘Hugh Hefner-like’ bath robe, Jessie Lee was THE MAN.
Jessie Lee was never one to mince words or hide his feelings. He loved women. He loved good soul food (especially neck bones and collard greens). Jessie Lee could converse about practically anything. And he knew the power his words held. His words, whether complementary or argumentative, never left any doubt about how he felt. He was sometimes brash and sometimes harsh – but no matter how he felt about something he held strong in his convictions.
Jessie Lee had many health challenges throughout his life, including persistent heart and kidney problems as well as being narcoleptic. A series of falls in his final years left Jessie Lee wheelchair-bound. He may have been slowed a bit but Jessie Lee remained animated, spirited, and very much Jessie Lee. He left a lasting impression on everyone he came in contact with.
Jessie Lee was preceded in death by his Mother Clara Smith (nee Brox), father Isadore Andrews, Aunt Jeanette Jones, Uncles Billy Joe Jones and Will Hayward Jones.
Jessie Lee is survived by, his children, Vicki Mechelle Andrews, Darrell Andrews, and Damon Leon Andrews (Krista Webber) all of Portland, OR;his longtime partner, Charlene Andrews of Portland, OR; his siblings, Maxine Andrews Swanagan, Walter Lee Johnson of Vallejo, CA, Boyce James Johnson of Seattle, WA, Henry Gerald Johnson (Rita), Phillip Edward Johnson (Sonya), Wesley Johnson (Sandra), Bonnie Johnson (Mary), Samuel Ezell, all of Portland, OR, Stressla Johnson of Oregon; his aunts, Ida Mae Miller of Portland, OR, Mary Rogers of FederalWay, WA; nine (9) grandchildren, Breana, Chaunte, Damesha, Dequiece, DaShawn, Aaliyah, Alexandria, Demetria, & Leondre; four (4) great grand-children, Alijah, Semaj, Maliyah, and Amillion, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and loved ones.