In Memoriam: Lee Allen DeForest
Lee Allen DeForest
April 10, 1948 – August 3, 2021
From the Desk of Megan Petersen:
Today at Deforest Group, we’re celebrating the life of Lee Deforest.
I’ve had the privilege of knowing and learning from Lee Deforest for the past 16 years. Even though he retired six years ago, we kept in touch every few weeks. I considered him a business mentor, as he taught me about the balancing act of managing and advocating for customer needs within the overall agency landscape. His number one rule was ‘Never over-promise and underdeliver’ — which I live by to this day. His customer first attitude won the hearts of many, which in turn, helped to build Deforest Group over a long period of time. Our common interest in photography sparked lively conversations, pushing the business forward in keeping on the cutting edge of digital technologies.
Lee was first and foremost dedicated to his large family, devoted to always learning and growing in business, and determined to spend time fishing — usually with loved ones. He found beauty in the simple things — and enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others.
Lee always had a knack for storytelling — his entire life was spent in the agency world, and his broad experience was evident in his stories. At the company level, I watched Lee juggle hats as an account manager, co-owner of the company, and IT support… though there were many other roles he played over the years. He watched me ‘grow up’ in the business and in life, and I’m thankful for the friendship we developed from countless hours spent together on the job.
Last year, I took some time to interview him in an effort to learn more about the rich history of Deforest Group. Here’s a small excerpt of what he shared with me, in his own words:
“When I was a kid, Mom would drive us to Dad’s offices and we’d clean all the office areas on the weekends… bathrooms, toilets, artists’ desks, waste baskets, and scrubbing floors. Back then the artists’ used colored chalk for their layout designs, and its dust was all over everything! Jim, Tom & I called ourselves the LEGITO CLEANING SERVICE (LEe-JIm-TOm). We had to put 50 cents of every dollar earned in the bank, and could spend the other half as we pleased.
I started working there summers, starting when I was 16, learning the advertising design trade. In 1966 I enrolled at the University of Illinois, graduating in Advertising (’70), Jim (Business Administration) and Tom (Fine & Applied Art) also attended the U of I. Tom started his own successful design firm (Design Dynamics), Jim started his own printing company, the DeForest Printing Company (DPC) and, while still working at my Dad’s company, I started an audio-visual, web design & meeting planning company, Lee DeForest Communications (LDC).
When Dad retired in 1997, Jim & I took over DDA and renamed it DeForest Group as it exists today. To say we were born of “privilege” is an understatement… but privilege born of caring, but tenacious & demanding parents.
Oh, and by the way… they (mom and dad), and we, built it… not the government! Just sayin’.”
All of us at Deforest Group will miss Lee, and we’ll hold dear the many wonderful memories we have of him.