Bernard Zane Lee, 93, our revered family patriarch, was born in New York City on February 15, 1925 and slipped peacefully from this life on Thursday, January 31, 2019.
BZ’s life was filled with remarkable accomplishments. He was admitted to the first class at the Bronx High School of Science. He volunteered in the US Army on his 18th birthday during WWII and served for 3 years, during which time: he attended the University of Michigan in the Army Specialized Training Program; served 1 ½ years in Europe; and was awarded the Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge, and European Theater Medal with 3 Battle Stars. In 2014, BZ was knighted in the French Order of the Legion of Honour on the 70th anniversary the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
Upon discharge from the Army, BZ came to Houston where his parents had relocated – “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!” – and continued his education at the University of Houston, receiving a BBA; he was the School of Business Distinguished Alumnus in 1975.
BZ’s career as a CPA had its beginnings in Houston starting with his education and ultimately reaching the loftiest heights of his profession. It was in Houston in 1955 that he and Jay Bahme created their own accounting firm, which in 1968 merged with another local firm; and then in 1969 that firm joined what is now BDO USA. In 1974, BZ became the CEO of BDO USA and then served as Chairman of BDO International. He held memberships in several state, national, and international accounting societies; he received the Texas Society of CPAs Distinguished Public Service Award in 1992. In 1983, BZ was elected Chairman of the Board of the American Institute of CPAs. BZ served as the US Representative to the International Federation of Accountants, as a Director of the Financial Accounting Advisor Council, the Financial Accounting Foundation, the Accounting Research Association. On retiring from BDO in 1987, BZ was in charge of the AICPA Office for Government Relations in Washington DC. In 1990, he received the AICPA Gold Medal for Distinguished Service, the profession’s highest award.
BZ was active in community affairs, serving on boards and committees of civic and charitable organizations in Houston, Washington DC, Shreveport, and New York City. Especially, he served for decades on the boards of The Center Serving Persons with Intellectual Disabilities in Houston and The Center Foundation. He and his wife, Alicia, devoted their later years to that cause and in 2003 received the SAVVY Award for Community Service.
Above all his accomplishments, his family meant the entire world to him. This is evident by the framed photos which surrounded him on every wall and surface of his home. He abundantly adored his family. Every picture sent by email was saved on his desktop screensaver in an every-rotating reminder of the beautiful family that he and his sweetheart, Alicia, created.
BZ is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Alicia Sylvia Lee; by his parents, Florence & Jules Lee; and by his sons, Jeffrey Marc & Jon Alan. He is survived by his devoted children, Wendy Lee Meoz & her husband Raul, Donna Lee Singer & her husband Dan, and Tracey Lee Wallace; by his brother Irwin Lee & his wife Marie; his sister Marcia Funk Kirshner; and his loving grandchildren Allison & Sean Monson, Natalie & Justin Smith, Benjamin & Emily Meoz, Katherine Meoz, Taylor Wallace, Gavin Wallace, Damon Merwin. His great-grandchildren were the absolute light of BZ’s later years and they adored their Paw-Paw: Blake, Braden, Isabelle, Drew Zane, and Adeline Monson; Macy and Samuel Smith; and Minerva Grace Meoz.
In his own words, “what a spectacular, miraculous adventure my life has been . . . I couldn’t have dreamed this up.”
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston.