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Theus "Lee" Doolittle: 1931-2024


Captain Theus "Lee" Doolittle passed away on Thursday, March 21, 2024, with his daughter by his side.

Lee was born in Los Angeles, California, on April 4, 1931, to Theus and Helen Doolittle. He grew up in Burbank, California, and still had a soft spot in his heart for his hometown.

Lee was involved in the Boy Scouts, earning his Eagle Scout award in 1945 and attending the 1950 National Boy Scout Jamboree as an Assistant Scout Master. Boy Scouts instilled a love of camping and fishing trips.

Lee was incredibly passionate about Yosemite, where worked in the Lodge kitchen in the summer and on breaks throughout his college career. He spent his free time hiking around the park, including hiking the back side of Half Dome.

Lee continued to share that love of Yosemite with his family throughout his life, though his family lacked the same ambition of hiking Half Dome.

Growing up, he excelled in athletics, especially High School baseball and swimming which led him on his career path. Lee graduated from Burbank High in 1949 and went to John Muir College. He attended UCLA as a "contract" NROTC Midshipman, receiving his BS in 1954, an MS in Physical Education, and his Officer Commission in 1955. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in Physical Education at USC.

His lifelong Naval service began with active duty on the USS Electron in Japan and the Philippines, followed by service on the USS Locator cruising the coast of California. Lee continued his military service in the Naval Reserve, where he attained the rank of Captain.

His numerous billets included Reserve Gunnery Officer of USS Colahan, Commanding Officer of the Selected Reserve Crew for USS Orleck, and Commanding Officer of YR-84, the largest reserve unit in the Thirteenth Naval District.

Lee served as President of the Puget Sound Chapter of the Naval Reserve Association and was a member of the Naval Institute. He also attended short courses at the National Defense University and the Naval War College. Captain Doolittle retired from the Navy Reserve in 1985.

Upon his return from active duty, Lee met his wife of 59 years, Janice (Jan) Turley. His cousin, Robert, was the principal of the school where Jan taught, and he introduced them. After a whirlwind romance, they were married in April of 1957. They had one child, Semie, and one grandchild, Malissa.

In addition to having an outstanding career in the Navy, Lee had an impressive teaching career. Returning to civilian life after active duty, he taught and coached in secondary schools in Southern California while earning his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.

He joined the California State, Los Angeles, faculty in 1962 and held visiting appointments at the Santa Barbara and Davis campuses of the University of California. Ready for another adventure, Lee moved his family to Edmonds in 1970. He took a position at the University of Washington, teaching Physiology of Exercise and Kinesiology, and he retired from there in 1991.

Lee thought the world of his family and was extremely proud of the accomplishments of his only granddaughter, particularly her marriage to a man in the service. He was delighted to have a grandson-in-law in the Coast Guard; family gatherings were frequently spent discussing boats and the seagoing services.

Lee combined his passion for travel and his family by planning numerous vacations to Yosemite, Hawaii, and Florida, along with a few cruises. Lee traveled on his own as well, loving to stay at the Hale Koa for several weeks at a time. He loved to take his family out and was always quick to tell the wait staff he would be “The Banker."

He has volunteered throughout his lifetime in various positions and organizations. Most recently, Lee was a volunteer for the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce Cabin Visitors Center, a position he greatly enjoyed.

Lee is survived by his daughter Semie, son-in-law Larry, granddaughter Malissa, grandson-in-law Colin, and brother Bill.

His family would like to thank the 5th-floor staff of Edmonds Swedish Hospital and the staff at Sunrise Assisted Living of Edmonds for Lee's kind and compassionate care.

Gifts in memory of Lee can be made to the US Coast Guard Foundation,, or the Yosemite Conservancy at

No services per Lee’s request.