Alice Lee, a lawyer and sister of “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee, died on Monday in Alabama. She was 103.
As her sister’s attorney, Alice practiced law up until the age of 100 and in 2012 became the oldest attorney to serve in Alabama at the time. Both Alice and Harper grew up in Monroeville, Ala., about 90 miles north of Mobile. The Johnson Funeral Home in Monroeville confirmed Alice Lee’s death.
“She was the heart of this firm .... Miss Alice was her own woman, she was always a force and a dear friend,” said Tonja Carter, a partner at Barnett, Bugg, Lee & Carter, the firm Alice Lee worked at up until two years ago. Alice Lee joined the firm -- founded in part by her father Amasa Coleman Lee -- in 1943.
In a 2012 interview with the Daily Beast, Alice Lee said that when her father asked her to join the firm, among her questions before accepting the job was: How would a small town react to a woman in a law office?
“There were not many around those days. And my father smiled and said, ‘You’ll never know until you try,’ ” she said.
In July, the book “The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee,” was published and quickly disputed by Harper Lee. The novel was a chronicle of the 18 months author Marja Mills spent living in a home next door to Alice and Harper Lee.
After it was published, the very private Harper Lee sent a letter to journalists saying that “as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood.”
Mills has said she wrote the novel with the permission of both sisters.
Millis said on Tuesday that Alice Lee was a “remarkable woman in her own right.”
“She was petite and polite as a person could be,” said Mills who lives in Chicago. “She was a force in intellect and integrity.”