William Lee

William S. Lee
William Lee
Lancaster, SC, USA
Death date
Fields of study

1930 -1931

William S. Lee, AIEE President, 1930 - 1931, president of W.S. Lee Engineering Corporation of New York and Charlotte. He also worked with James B. Duke in developing hydroelectric resources in the southern United States.


Lee was AIEE president from 1930 to 1931.

THE development of the electric power industry in the southeastern part of the United States was the constant endeavor throughout the engineering and business career of William States Lee. Mr. Lee was one of the outstanding figures in the industry at the time of his recent death, March 24, 1934.

Mr. Lee was born in Lancaster, S. C., January 28, 1872. He received the degree of C.E. from The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, in 1894. He received the honorary degree of doctor of laws from this institution in 1932, and that of doctor of science from Davidson College, N. C., in 1929.

Following graduation, he was obliged to teach 2 years, in return for the free scholarship to the Citadel, which he had won in a competitive examination. In 1897 he was appointed resident engineer at the Anderson (S. C.) Light and Power Company. In 1898 he became resident engineer of the Columbus (Ga.) Power Company, becoming chief engineer of this company in 1902. He next went with the Catawba Power Company, Charlotte, N. C., being appointed chief engineer in March 1903, and vice-president and chief engineer in October of that year. This company was a subsidiary of the Southern Power Company, and in 1905 he became chief engineer of the latter company. He later received the appointment of vice-president and chief engineer, which position he held for about 15 years. At the time of his death in March of the present year, Mr. Lee was vice-president and chief engineer of the Duke Power Company, Charlotte, N. C., and president of W. S. Lee Engineering Corporation of New York and Charlotte.

Mr. Lee held a number of other offices, being president and chief engineer of the Piedmont and Northern Railway Company, vice-president and chief engineer and director of the Wateree Power Company, Western Carolina Power Company, and Catawba Power Company.

Mr. Lee was long associated with the late James B. Duke, and together they were active in the construction of many power systems and the development of hydroelectric resources in the south. Probably Mr. Lee's most notable achievement was the designing and building of the Duke Power Company system, consisting of some 32 hydroelectric stations and 7 steam electric stations, with a generating capacity of more than 1,000,000 kva. He also designed and supervised the building of the Duke-Price Power Company's Isle Maligne station on the Saguenay River, Quebec, Canada. He was consulting engineer for the Alcoa Power Company, and designed the Beauhamois Plant which is now being constructed on the St. Lawrence River, near Montreal; when completed it will probably be the largest hydroelectric plant in the world.

Mr. Lee has given freely of his time to the Institute, having been a manager 1911-14, and a director 1929-30, in addition to having been president. He has served on 8 of the Institute committees and been its representative on several other bodies. He was particularly active in American Engineering Council, having been its president for the 2 years 1932-33. He was a member of several other societies.

(Copied from Electrical Engineering, May, 1934)

Further Reading

Papers of W.S. Lee - records and correspondence, 1904 - 1934