Former Hutchinson publisher dies at 65

Lee was on staff that won '65 Pulitzer

? Wayne Lee, former publisher of The Hutchinson News, has died after a bout with pneumonia.

Lee, who worked as a reporter, managing editor, and editor and publisher at The News, died in Larned on Friday, one day before his 66th birthday. He and his wife, Patricia Lee, had opened an antique store after they moved to Pawnee Rock in October.

Wayne Lee was part of the staff of the Hutchinson News when it won the 1965 Pulitzer Prize for a crusade to change the Kansas system of apportioning seats in the Legislature.

Active in the civil rights movement, Lee and his family endured vandalism and threats when he was the first chairman of both the Hutchinson Human Relations Commission and the Reno County Legal Aid Society. He also was a host on KPTS public television for several years.

Lloyd Ballhagen, who served as chief executive editor of Harris Enterprises from 1984 until his retirement in late 1997, remembered the contributions Lee made as an investigative reporter and managing editor of The Hutchinson News from 1961 to 1977. Lee returned to The News as editor and publisher from 1992 until September 1996.

“Wayne had contacts all over Kansas,” Ballhagen said. “He covered many important stories and worked on many exposes that had a statewide impact.”

John Lee, president and chief executive officer of Harris Enterprises Inc., which own The Hutchinson News, recalled Wayne Lee as a tenacious editor who protected the public’s interest. John Lee was not related to Wayne Lee.

Wayne Lee is survived by his wife, Patricia; his daughter, Christina Lee; two sons, Gregory Tinsley and Bradley Wayne Lee, and five grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were pending.