E. Brooke Lee Jr., 86, scion of a powerful Maryland political family who became a real estate broker and developer and a candidate for public office, died Aug. 20 at his home in Chevy Chase. He had congestive heart failure.
Mr. Lee, who made millions as a developer, once said his family "bought Silver Spring when it was a cornfield." He traced his roots to a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a builder of Blair House, the presidential guest house. He was the grandson of a U.S. senator and the son of the speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates. His late brother, Blair Lee III, was acting governor of Maryland in the late 1970s. His late sister, Elizabeth Lee Scull, was chairman of the Montgomery County Council.
Mr. Lee's political fortunes were less auspicious -- and usually described as quixotic and quirky.
"I'm white, I'm Republican and you probably don't know me because I haven't been here very long," he said at one forum when he ran against incumbent D.C. Mayor Marion Barry in 1982. He said he would use his Ivy League "old boy" network to bring jobs to the District and lower unemployment.
He said he had charisma to spare, billing himself as "the world's greatest toilet paper salesman," a reference to his earlier marketing career for the Scott Paper Co.
After losing to Barry, Mr. Lee helped raise funds for Howard University -- one of his campaign promises. He then settled in Maryland, where he briefly contemplated a run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Charles McC. Mathias Jr. in 1986.
About that time, Mr. Lee spoke to reporters about being a father again at 66 with his second wife, Deborah, four decades his junior.
He received less welcome public attention in July 1995 when he pleaded guilty, in a closed juvenile court proceeding, to misdemeanor child abuse after being charged with fondling a babysitter. Washington Post accounts, quoting sources familiar with the case, said he received a $2,500 fine and a suspended three-year prison sentence.
Later, he settled for an undisclosed sum a $33.4 million civil suit filed against him by the babysitter's parents. In 1996, he also settled a lawsuit filed by his wife Deborah involving a pledge she said he had made to her involving part of the family fortune.
Edward Brooke Lee Jr., a Silver Spring native, was a graduate of St. Paul's school in New Hampshire and Princeton University. He did postgraduate work at Harvard University Business School. He served in the Army in Europe during World War II.
At Scott Paper Co. in Philadelphia, he held marketing and accounting positions before returning to the Washington area in the early 1960s. He began his extensive involvement in community fundraising, especially for Greater Southeast Community Hospital.
He was a real estate broker for Shannon and Luchs in Washington and then for Merrill Lynch. He also was president of E. Brooke Lee Properties Inc. in Montgomery County.
In recent years, Mr. Lee wrote letters to the editor recalling his war experiences and some of his genealogy. He wrote that he and his brother, Blair, "found time to take our family tree back 31 grandfathers to William the Conqueror, then 32 to Ethelred the Unready, King of Saxony. Blair did the work and I sharpened the pencils."
His marriages to Camilla Lee and Deborah Roche Lee ended in divorce.
A son from his first marriage, E. Brooke Lee III, died in 2003.
Survivors include his wife, Brenda Lee of Chevy Chase, whom he married in 1998; five children from his first marriage, Camilla Lee Alexander of Berkeley, Calif., Kaiulani Lee Kimbrell of Arlington, Katy Blair St. John of Essex, Mass., Richard Henry Lee of Warren, Maine, and Elizabeth Lee of Washington; two children from his second marriage, Samuel Phillips Lee and Regina Blair Lee, both of Chevy Chase; three stepsons; a half brother; 14 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.