ST. PETERSBURG — Retired educator Lee Benjamin, 86, was honored last night by Northeast High School.
After an hour of socializing at the school's Culinary Arts Center, the crowd moved next door to the school's gymnasium for a ceremony dedicating the building as the Lee Benjamin Athletic Center, honoring the contributions Benjamin made to Pinellas County, where he spent his entire professional career as a teacher, coach, principal, area superintendent and School Board member.
Many of Benjamin's family members were present. Pinellas County school superintendent Michael A. Grego, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni and John Tomlinson, Class of 1965, spoke at the dedication.
The city of St. Petersburg and the Pinellas County Commission both made proclamations in honor of Benjamin.
Benjamin was the first basketball coach at Northeast High School when the school opened in 1954. He coached and taught physical education until 1966. From 1966-1970, he served as dean/assistant principal at the school. Benjamin became principal of Northeast in 1970. During his first year as principal, he led Northeast through desegregation.
In 1974 he became an area superintendent. Benjamin retired from the school district in 1986.
In 1990, Benjamin was elected as a member of the Pinellas County School Board. During his 14 years on the School Board, he was elected chairman four times.
Benjamin earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Florida State University. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of South Florida in 2002.