Milton Lee was licensed as a barber in Arizona in 1947, having served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. Although he was a navy barber, he earned seven battle stars and won a commendation for his crew and himself for rescuing a downed bomber crew from stormy seas. After being discharged in 1946, Lee attended the American Pacific Barber College in Los Angeles, and returned to Arizona, where he worked as a barber for many years.
He joined the barbers' union and became active in helping organize non-union barbers. He represented barbers at the Central Labor Council and State Federation of Labor. He served as official lobbyist for the Arizona AFL-CIO and the Barbers' Union. Mr. Lee personally wrote and lobbied into passage amendments to the Arizona Barber Law, making it one of the best in the country. Following a serious accident, he was unable to continue barbering except for a few hours a week.
In keeping with his interest in community service and politics, he was employed full-time as AFL-CIO community representative and its first political director. He was instrumental in creating Barbers' Crippled Children's Day, which went on to be adopted nationally, providing money for Easter Seals. He was co-founder of the East Valley Partnership, a group of community leaders whose efforts focus on equitable distribution of state and national resources to the East Valley area of Arizona. He also helped establish the East Valley Cultural Alliance. Lee's political activities include more than 10 years on the Arizona Democratic Central Committee and 12 years on the Maricopa County Central Committee.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Lee served a two-year stint in Washington, DC, where he oversaw a staff of 20 and served as a political strategist and technician to the 1960 JFK presidential campaign. He wrote numerous Medicare speeches for Hubert Humphrey and the National Council of Senior Citizens. The platform for much of Lee's work was the Mesa United Way, of which he served as president and CEO for over 26 years. He masterminded and managed a number of other community programs for the needy, the hungry, the homeless, and the abused.
Mr. Lee wrote two textbooks, The History and Economics of Barbering and The Ancient and Honorable Barber Profession. He also wrote numerous papers on leadership and group dynamics. He and a partner, Neil Fisher, an internationally recognized hair stylist, purchased Arizona's most exclusive hair salon, Roffler International.
Mr. Lee received Mesa's Outstanding Citizen award in 1980, AFL-CIO Man of the Year award in 1975, the 1988 Silver Beaver award from the Boy Scouts of America, and was named a Paul Harris Fellow. In 1994 he was inducted into the Barber Hall of Fame.