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Epilogue | Ron Landsee Lees

St. Petersburg restaurant owner Ron Lees approached life with humor

ST. PETERSBURG — Ron Lees always knew he was doing the right thing, even if he wasn't.

Out on the water, he told his daughter the sailboat would not run aground. When they got stuck on a sandbar, he had a ready-made solution, said daughter Liz Lees: "Catch some fish, have a beer and don't worry about it."

Several times, they spent all night waiting for the tide to rise, she said.

Mr. Lees traveled the world as an airline sales rep. When he retired, he opened Apropos Bistro & Bar on the approach to the Pier.

After selling the restaurant in 1999, he played golf and tended the orchids at Sunken Gardens as a volunteer.

Mr. Lees died Wednesday, of leukemia. He was 67.

"Dad always said, 'Rules are for other people.' They were not for him," his daughter said.

Once, a rule in an African park about not removing animal remains stood in the way of Mr. Lees having the antelope's head souvenir he wanted. Then one day he saw an antelope carcass.

"He goes out and yanks the head off the thing," said Lees, who accompanied her father on the trip. "For a long time it sat on the TV until it disintegrated."

A St. Petersburg native, Mr. Lees was voted "most humorous" in 1960 by his peers at St. Petersburg High School. He studied chiropractic medicine for a couple of years and didn't finish, but retained a near-total recall of Gray's Anatomy.

He opened Apropos in 1987, moving it after a few years from downtown to 300 Second Ave. NE. .

He showed off new golf swings on a near-daily basis to his golf buddies at the Vinoy Resort and Golf Club. If the ball went straight, it was because of his new swing.

If the ball went into the woods, some minor malfunction had occurred.

He bent the rules in his favor, particularly when it came to awarding himself do-overs, or mulligans.

"He'd say, 'Look, I'm not trying to turn pro,' " said buddy Bill Thomas, 73. "You could almost laugh at anybody who criticized his mulligans. He really treated life in a very humorous way."

Mr. Lees entertained his friends with an encyclopedic recall of everything from human anatomy to the menus at overseas restaurants. Occasionally, somebody would fact-check him on the Internet, which only resulted in proving Mr. Lees correct.

In recent years, chronic leukemia had Mr. Lees going for "shots," as he called chemotherapy. He told his family everything would be fine.

"He wasn't trying to keep a stiff upper lip," Liz Lees said. "That was his outlook on life."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at ameacham@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2248.

>>Biography

Ron Landsee Lees

Born: May 20, 1942.

Died: July 1, 2009.

Survivors: wife, Jane Anne; daughter, Liz and her husband, Robert Chung; stepchildren, Jim and Alice Thompson, Julie and Duane Draper; and six grandchildren.

Service: private.

St. Petersburg restaurant owner Ron Lees approached life with humor 07/06/09 [Last modified: Monday, July 6, 2009 7:03pm]
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