Joseph M. Fee Jr.
FEE JOSEPH JR. passed away peacefully at home in San Francisco, California on March 13, 2017. He was 96. The son of Joseph M. Fee and Mary Hopwood Fee, he was born in Pennsylvania. In 1928, he moved with his younger sister, Florence Hopwood Fee, and his parents to Michigan. His father, who became the first mayor of Grosse Pointe City, worked for the Corbin Screw Company in the Penobscot Building. His father's untimely death in 1938 shaped his family's life indelibly. After graduating that same year from Grosse Pointe High School as a tennis doubles champion, Joe joined his mother and sister in southern California. He attended Pomona College for several semesters. In the summer of 1940, he returned to his boyhood home in Grosse Pointe, living with his mother and sister. He worked as a machine operator for the Northwest Tool Company before taking a graveyard shift job in a tire assembly line with the U.S. Rubber Company. In a 1951 job application, he wrote of achieving a "certain mutual respect with the machines," and of being proud of "keeping up with the line." Joe enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942. After taking a test at the Cleveland Naval Station for V-12 college training, he was given orders to report to New Haven. He attended Yale University in uniform and subsequently Midshipmen's School at Columbia University, graduating Oct. 1944. Joe was assigned to the U.S.S. Tangiers, a seaplane tender, as one of five deck officers. He was on deck watch duty during a historic typhoon that sunk two U.S. destroyers and when the U.S.S. Tangiers went into Tokyo Bay, then still dotted with mine fields, for the signing of the Instrument of Surrender of the Empire of Japan in 1945. After the War, Joe returned to Yale, where he befriended and came under the informal tutelage of playwright and artist-in-residence, Thornton Wilder. Joe graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Economics in 1947 with the Yale University Class of 1945W. While visiting his mother and sister during a Navy leave, Joe met the love of his life, Elizabeth Crawford. Joe and Libby were married in 1948 in her family home in Santa Barbara. A few years later, Joe wrote that being married to Libby lifted a sense of impermanence he had felt since his father's death. Joe sold soap for Procter and Gamble until 1949 when the couple moved to Cambridge and Joe started Harvard Business School on the GI Bill. He graduated with distinction in 1951. Joe took a job as a security analyst with Dean Witter in San Francisco upon graduating from business school. In 1954, Joe joined Dodge and Cox, an investment management firm. Joe introduced pension and foundation fund management to the firm, diversifying the client base and vastly increasing the assets under management. Joe's investment acumen facilitated a comfortable retirement for multitudes of clients from a broad spectrum of professions. "It was all because of him," asserts a Dodge and Cox colleague, "he set the standard." Pillar that he was, Joe could also be playful -- he did somersaults in the office hallway when new accounts came in. He became President after the firm incorporated and was named Chairman and CEO in 1990. Joe's tenacity, mental agility, and capacity to juggle contradictory ideas helped him weather setbacks - and reassure others in the face of them. His understanding and knowledge were accompanied for the entirety of his life by an unfailing memory and a contagious wit. He was a masterful storyteller, both in speech and in prose; his toasts were legendary. He was winsome, warm, and charismatic. If asked for advice, he responded with succinct nuggets of distilled wisdom. When one's own world or the world at large seemed upside down, he could make it seem rightable. Joe spent his life working indefatigably for the security, joy, and fulfillment of his loved ones. He was a trusted and esteemed advisor, a cherished friend, and a devoted and adored husband. He was the dearest, most loving father and grandfather any child could hope for. Joe was predeceased by his beloved wife of 64 years, Libby, in 2012. He is survived by his daughters, Laura E. Rees (Nigel), Nancy H. Fee (Peter G. Platt, Jr.), his grandchildren, Natalie E. Mulay, Amanda F. Mulay, Isabella O. Rees, and Jordy A. Fee-Platt, and by his nieces and nephews.
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