Lee, John Baptist Mary (1915–2008), dentist, was born 24 June 1915 in Kilfinane, Co. Limerick (probably in Glendove House), second youngest of ten children of William P. Lee and his wife Agnes (née Condon; d. 1955). William Lee, from a locally prominent family of strong farmers that produced several generations of priests and doctors, was a JP and the dispensary medical officer in Kilfinane, with a substantial private practice. He died suddenly while working in the dispensary in October 1926. The board of health did not provide a pension, so that Lee's widow was left in difficult circumstances. A local campaign the following year to support the appointment of one of William's sons as dispensary doctor was blocked by the board. Even so, Agnes Lee managed to provide good educational opportunities for her children; John's younger brother Gerard became a senior counsel, two other sons had law qualifications, and a daughter became a Loreto nun. The eldest son of the family, Patrick Lee, was a priest and for a time a teacher in St Munchin's College, Limerick, and John was educated there. He entered the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin in 1933.
He qualified as a dentist in 1939, despite having had to convalesce after contracting pulmonary tuberculosis two years earlier. He wanted to specialise, but since there was then no postgraduate dental training available in Dublin, he studied medicine, graduating MD in 1945. He opened his own practice in Rathmines, Dublin, in 1941, and was a successful and very popular family dentist there for almost fifty years. For a short time he also held a part-time visiting position as house surgeon in the Dublin Dental Hospital, and lectured in the Dental School (1952–80), introducing generations of students to dental prosthetics. He also lectured in the faculty of dentistry in the Royal College of Surgeons (1953–76), and was elected a fellow.
Lee made important contributions to the profession of dentistry in Ireland and in the European Community. He was an enthusiastic member of the Irish Dental Association from 1941, and was elected president in 1969, thus suitably qualified to write the short but well-researched History of the Irish Dental Association 1922–1972 (1972). For fourteen years he represented the association (and thus Irish dentistry) on an international advisory committee which advised on the dental directives of the European Community; he was president of the committee from 1978, the year when the directives were finalised and promulgated, until 1982. Lee was one of several Irish dentists whose input was of significance in framing the recommendations which now regulate all aspects of the practice of dentistry in Europe.
Undoubtedly remembering his mother's struggles in widowhood, Lee was a founder of the Irish Dental Benevolent Society in 1949, and a trustee of the society for twenty-five years. He was appointed to the Dental Council of Ireland when it was established by an act of the dáil in 1985, and served on it for eight years. In 1992 he co-authored (with Niall Hogan) The evolution of a profession and of its dental school in Dublin. A new edition was in preparation when Lee died in St James's Hospital, Dublin, on 19 January 2008; the book was completed by Professor Diarmuid Shanley, and launched at a celebratory posthumous event in December 2008. John Lee's wider contributions to dentistry had been acknowledged by his colleagues in the Irish Dental Association when he received a lifetime of distinguished service award in 2006.
He married Eugenie Barry-Walsh, from Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, in the University Church, Dublin, on 15 September 1950; Gene Walsh survived her husband, with their two sons and two daughters.