Richard “Dick” Underwood Lea
In loving memory of Richard “Dick” Underwood Lea of Orange, a beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend.
Dick lost his valiant battle with cancer on Jan. 4, in Austin. He spent the last days of his life surrounded by his wife Jean, daughter Brette, granddaughter Lexi, dear friend Richard, and family whom he loved.
Dick was born on June 22, 1928 in Orange, the son of William and Elizabeth Lea and the youngest brother of Bill, Johnny, Spiv, and Hugh. He graduated Stark High School in 1945. At the age of 17, Dick joined the U.S. Navy, serving on the destroyer nearest the A-bomb testing site in the Pacific. Following World War II, He graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and from UT School of Law. Dick played baseball for the university and was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.
On May 24, 1958, Dick married the love of his life, Jean. They were blessed with a daughter, Brette, in Orange and then moved to Kansas City where Dick continued his legal career as a judge advocate general (JAG) in the U.S. Air Force. In 1966, Dick took his family to Clear Lake City, where he spent 35 years employed as legal counsel with NASA – Johnson Space Center.
Through the years, Dick and wife Jean kept close ties with many long-time friends in Houston, Orange, and beyond. They took annual trips to visit the Hill Country, two-step at Gilley’s, and take in UT, Oilers, and Cowboys football games, as well as a few PGA golf tournaments. Dick loved classical, country, and big band music. He had a gift for debate and was a true believer in the power of education. After retiring from NASA, he and his wife returned home to Orange where they became regulars at Sunset Grove Country Club and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
Dick found tremendous joy in playing golf, fishing and hunting, visiting with old friends, and spending time with his family. In 2000, he gained the title of “Pop-Pop” given to him by his precious granddaughter Lexi. Dick loved his wife of 53 years and his family with all his heart and soul. A man of faith, he spent every moment appreciating what the Lord made possible.
He was preceded in death by his parents William and Elizabeth Lea and his brothers Bill, Johnny, Spiv, and Hugh.
Dick is survived by his wife Jean of Orange, his daughter Brette Lea and her daughter Alexis Lea of Austin, sister-in-law Dee Lea of Austin, and his many beloved nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Dick’s life is schedule at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1401 W. Park Avenue. Visitation will be immediately prior to the service at 1:00 p.m.
Arrangements are provided by Claybar Funeral Home in Orange.
In lieu of flowers, the family has established a scholarship fund in Dick’s memory benefiting graduates of West-Orange Stark High School. Those wishing to make a contribution may make them to the Richard Lea Scholarship Fund, c/o Wells Fargo – Orange Branch, 400 N. 16th Street, Orange, TX 77630 or call (409) 882-2300.