Diver remembered as open, caring

Kenny K. Lee, the 41-year-old diver who died Sept. 12 after becoming trapped in Giggle Crack, will be remembered at a service in Cypress on Saturday.

Lee was a structural engineer and principal in LPA, an Irvine architecture firm.

"He was a gifted structural engineer and he brought his considerable talents to our firm when his engineering firm, Lee George Structural Engineers, merged with LPA in 2007," LPA President Dan Heinfeld said in a statement. "Everyone in our company was touched by Kenny's humor, infectious smile, intellect and professionalism. He was all the things that a leader should be, open, caring and freely giving to help his team be successful. He had a passion for structural engineering that was unique and made all of us better. He will be greatly missed by his friends here at LPA."

Lee had more than 20 years of experience in analysis, design and construction of a wide variety of projects and was a specialist in applying new technologies in seismic design, according to the statement. In 1998, he was appointed by the Structural Engineers Assn. of California and the National Science Foundation to represent U.S. engineers in the U.S.-Japan Joint Workshop in Tokyo. His research was later adopted and incorporated in FEMA 350 as design guidelines.

Lee was responsible for the structural design of many significant works, including the $200-million Jakarta Galeria, the $160-million Mission Place and the $60-million Jet Propulsion Laboratory Flight Projects Center, according to LPA. He was a plan check consultant for the Division of State Architect. Lee was a LEED accredited professional, and a registered California structural and civil engineer.

"Our hearts and love go out to his family and to all who had the privilege of getting to know Kenny," LPA Chief Financial Officer Charles Pruitt said in the statement. "He was an amazing man, friend and professional. There is nothing we can say to diminish the shock and loss that we feel. Kenny will be sorely missed."

Lee was diving with a friend when the two were pulled into the underwater rock formation. The friend was able to escape and attempted to pull Lee to safety but could not. Lee was eventually taken out of the water by lifeguards who attempted to revive him. He was pronounced dead at Saddleback Hospital.

He is survived by his wife, Ling, and their two daughters, 9-year-old Florence and 6-year-old Josephine.

A memorial service will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, at the Church of Our Father's at Forest Lawn, 4471 Lincoln Ave., Cypress.

In Lee's memory, LPA has established a scholarship fund for his daughters. To contribute, make checks payable to: LPA Inc., Attn: Charles Pruitt, 5161 California Ave., Irvine, CA 92617 and reference "Lee Family Fund."

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