Pao Peter Lee was born in Beijing on December 12, 1917 and was raised in the province of Wuhan. His grandfather, Wan Tsou, was an author, scholar and dean at Hupei Teachers College. He was a great influence on Pao Peter Lee. He taught him Tai Chi and gave him his name which means “give help to people without expectation of return as a spiritual form of pursuing happiness.”
Master Lee graduated with honors from the Central Police College of Chung King. He married in the 1940’s and moved his family to Taiwan. There he developed the island’s police officers’ training program and served as chief of police for Taipei City.
In 1953, he traveled to Detroit to participate in the conference of the International Association of Police Chiefs. He then settled in New York with his family and attended Columbia University to learn English. At the time he worked as a church superintendent, a youth counselor and in several restaurants.
In 1961, he became a calligrapher and interpreter for the United Nations and traveled to Europe in that capacity. At the time, he was teaching Tai Chi in the United Nations Diplomats Lounge.
In 1963, he opened his own restaurant, the Flower Drum, one block from the United Nations. He established the Chinese Chee Yue Association to present Chinese culture to the world. The restaurant was a gathering place for discussion,Tai Chi instruction, Chinese cultural performances, and delicious, healthy Chinese food.
In 1985, he opened a Flower Drum restaurant in Palm Springs, CA. He viewed the introduction of Tai Chi to the Coachella Valley as one of his most important accomplishments.
Master Pao Peter Lee was respected as a scholar, a progressive thinker, and for his extensive community service. He viewed Tai Chi as a respectful and honorable tradition that could offer peace and relaxation to people throughout the world. He truly lived in the spirit and principles of Tai Chi.
Master Lee’s daughter, Karen Lee, wrote a loving remembrance of her father in 2015.
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This post was written by Sifu Master Lu Molberg