Robert E. Lee IV Leaves Bank Board

Monday, March 17, 2008

Robert E. Lee IV, a great grandson of the Confederate army general, always brought a certain Southern bravado to his role as a director of Burke & Herbert Bank and Trust.

"He was a very nice dresser, and when we got to a function, he would pick out the prettiest girl on the dance floor, and everyone would stand aside as they waltzed across the floor," bank President Hunt Burke recalled on Friday. "I was jealous."

The 83-year-old Lee, who stepped down last week after 30 years on the bank board, said family ties had always been an important part of his business life.

An Army veteran of World War II, Lee began his career in business as national advertising director of the San Francisco Chronicle, run by the Hearst family. He moved back to Virginia to help run the family-owned A.S. Bowman Distillery, makers of Virginia Gentleman Bourbon.

Lee was invited to join Burke & Herbert's board in 1978 by two former classmates at Episcopal High School in Alexandria: Taylor Burke Jr. and David Burke, cousins who were the bank's chairman and president, respectively. As a director, Lee served on the board's audit committee and the bank's loan and compensation committee.

"To have family companies survive in this 21st-century world is a very difficult thing," Lee said. "I think it's amazing."

-- Alejandro Lazo

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