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Bob Lee J.D. ’84, October 12, 1957 – October 18, 2014. Lifelong Resident of Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee died at home after a battle with cancer. He was 57.
As Santa Cruz County’s top prosecutor, Bob advocated tirelessly for victims of crime. He was passionate about giving victims a voice in the criminal justice system. Bob restructured the District Attorney’s office, creating units to prosecute gangs, sex offenders, elder abuse and domestic violence, as well as consumer protection and environmental cases. He created the Santa Cruz County Gang Task Force, an interagency team focused on suppressing gang violence and prosecuting gang members. Recently he spearheaded the formation of the Downtown Accountability Program, focused on repeat offenders in downtown Santa Cruz. His leadership transformed his office and enhanced public safety.
Bob was a truly gifted trial lawyer. He was justifiably proud of his remarkable trial record, having never lost a jury trial in Santa Cruz County. He never shied away from difficult cases, prosecuting some of the County’s most challenging high profile cases. Throughout his twelve years as the elected District Attorney, Bob mentored other prosecutors helping them become better trial lawyers. He was a champion for victims of crime insisting on treating them with the compassion, consideration and respect they deserve.
Bob was a life-long resident of Santa Cruz County. The youngest of four brothers, Bob graduated from Soquel High School in 1975. He received a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration with honors from California State University Sacramento in 1980, followed by his Juris Doctorate degree in 1984 from Santa Clara University School of Law. He began his career as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office in Monterey County. He joined the District Attorney’s Office in Santa Cruz County as an Assistant District Attorney in 1988. He was elected as the District Attorney in 2002.
Growing up in Santa Cruz, Bob loved the ocean. Much of his free time during his "coming of age" years was spent with friends at the Cove and at Blacks Beach. He was an avid body surfer. He also spent considerable time playing pick-up basketball at Jade Street Park. He was one of the driving forces in the formation of "Royal Touch", a mainstay softball team of the late 70s. He was the founder of the "World Series of Poker", a winner-take-all dealer’s choice poker tournament open to 30-40 of his closest friends (costumes mandatory.) He created one of the earliest fantasy football leagues in the country in 1983, and the BFL (Bobby’s Football League) continued through 2001. He enjoyed playing tennis and took the game seriously, especially in his later years.
Bob married the love of his life, Barbara (nee Bush), in 1997. Bob was an Assistant District Attorney and Barbara, a probation officer. Their life together was rich and full; they enjoyed walks on the beach, bonfires, traveling, and good Zin. Their home was the hub of the neighborhood and their events (pumpkin carving, Christmas caroling, and line dancing, among others) and parties bonded their neighborhood. Bob was devoted to their dogs Charles, Cubbie, Chloe, Barkley and Audrey, and their cat Ollie.
Bob loved the San Francisco Giants since childhood. He was convinced that they would win the World Series in 2014, and lived to learn that they had won the pennant. Ever the true fan, he was adamant that his memorial service not conflict with a World Series game.
Bob is survived by his wife Barbara, his mother, Enid, his three brothers, Doug, Mark and Bill. He was predeceased by his father Robert. He was loved by those who knew him and touched the lives of many. He will be dearly missed.