PRESTON, LeBron Camp, “Lee”, age 93, a resident of Huntington Beach, California and formerly of Walnut Creek, California, passed away on June 12, 2020, in Huntington Beach, California. He was a beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
Lee Preston was born January 8, 1927, in Chickamauga, Georgia. His birth name was Watkins. He was the son of Warren and Eliza Mae Camp Watkins. At the age of 14, he left the South and went to live with his mother’s sister, Pearl and her husband Richard Preston, in Roseburg, Oregon. Lee joined the U.S. Navy after graduation from high school in 1943, at the age of 16. In order to enlist, he needed a legal guardian and he chose his aunt and her husband. Out of respect for them he changed his name to Preston.
During WWII, in 1946, and after 3 years in the Navy, Lee entered the University of Oregon. He graduated with a B.A. degree in Political Science in 1949. It was at University of Oregon that he met his future wife, Charline Harmon. Lee and Charline were married in Eugene, Oregon in 1949. In 1950, he did graduate work in Slavic Studies at the University of British Columbia and in 1951, he did graduate work in Russian Language at University of California at Berkeley. He was fluent in the Russian language and also spoke French and Portuguese.
In 1952, Lee began his career in the railroad industry with the Association of American Railroads in Washington D.C. In 1956, he and his wife and children moved to California where he took a position with Western Pacific Railroad. He held positions with Western Pacific Railroad until 1982, when his railroad was bought by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. Lee retired in 1985.
Lee was a Lieutenant (JG) in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He was a founding member of Beta-Kappa Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon at University of Oregon. He was a Free & Accepted Mason of Orinda, CA, and a member of Scottish Rite, Oakland, CA, and Aahmes Shrine, Livermore, CA. He held office as President of the Southern Alameda County, CA Transportation Club; was President of the Emeryville, CA, Toastmasters Int’l. and later became San Francisco Bay Area Governor of Toastmasters Int’l. Lee was also a member of Jamestowne Society, Thomas Jefferson Chapter Sons of the American Revolution, the Watkins Family Project, and was former President and Lord of the Manor of Wingfield, Suffolk, England, and the Wingfield Family Society.
A renowned genealogist and DNA expert, Lee’s research was published on many genealogy websites. He was also a former beekeeper and parakeet breeder as well as a knowledgeable gardener and plant breeder who specialized in citrus and camellias. He was an artist of sorts.
His wife Charline Harmon Preston, who passed away on September 16, 2002, preceded Lee in death. Lee is survived by his daughter Jan Newsome; son Steve Preston; daughter-in-law Barbara Preston; grandson Scott Newsome and wife Kim Newsome; grandson Todd Newsome and wife Amber Newsome; great-granddaughters Mira, Aria, Adalyn and Emma Newsome and grand-dogs Missy Newsome and Rocko Preston.
Long-time family friend Mark Magleby of Oak Park Hills Chapel in Walnut Creek, California, handled the final arrangements. A funeral service with Military Honors was held at Oakmont Memorial Park in Lafayette, California, on June 19, 2020. The United States Navy Honor Guard presented Lee’s flag to his great-granddaughter, Mira on behalf of the family. Lee is interred next to his wife Charline in Oakmont Memorial Park.
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