‘Grief is the price we pay for love.’

This was the last time Christy Lee, center, appeared on the Blue Streak. It was June 22 of this year at the Lakeshore Park Picnic, which was a fundraiser for the West Knoxville treasure. She’s with her husband, Jeff, and her friend, Margie Nichols. Christy passed away two weeks later.

Although that quote is credited to the late Queen Elizabeth II, last week it rang true here in Knoxville to the many friends of Christy Lee, among whom Alan and I count ourselves. Christy passed away suddenly on July 6 at the age of 62.

Her devoted husband, Jeff Lee, hosted a “celebration of Christy” at Cherokee Country Club last Thursday, which would have been Christy’s 63rd birthday. He asked everyone to wear blue jeans and white shirts to the affair. Jeans, he said, were the couple’s “go-to attire.” And he chose to request white shirts because they would be best to showcase the battery-operated sparkling necklaces that Christy loved to give to her friends on almost every holiday. As you will see from these photos, everyone got one on Thursday.

I will remember Christy as a fun-loving — and funny — addition to any gathering. And it was so touching to see how much she and Jeff adored one another. They actually purchased a house we used to live in on Cherokee Boulevard, and we loved vising them there to see the great improvements they made over the years — and the wonderful holiday decorations they would put up. (And I mean EVERY holiday — not just Christmas!)

Here’s one sweet story Jeff shared with us after Christy’s passing. The house has a pool in the back with an excellent sound system. He said that almost every night, the two of them would sit out there and have a glass of wine — or in Christy’s case, Veuve Clicquot — before dinner and listen to music. And every night they would get up and dance to the last song.

Jeff, with the help of our friend Margie Nichols, the former news director of WBIR-TV where Jeff was the longtime general manager, prepared a very special obituary that ran in the News Sentinel shortly after Christy died. Click here for that. It was great meeting members of Christy and Jeff’s family who traveled to Knoxville for the celebration last Thursday. Alan and I extend our sincere condolences.

Christy’s mother, Virginia Apel, left, and sister, Lorie Dusha, both of Colorado Springs.

Both her parents, Harry and Virginia Apel.

Jeff Lee, left, with his friends Joe and Ruth Fielden.

From left, Cindy Hughs, WBIR Anchor Emeritus Bill Williams, WBIR former anchor Moira Kaye and her husband, Dr. Dan Ely.

WBIR Meteorologist Todd Howell, left, and General Manager David Hunt.

“Voice of the Vols” Bob Kesling, left with Dr. Bill and Cathy Youmans.

From left, Seth Grossman, WBIR’s Beth Haynes and Travis May.

From left, WBIR’s Abby Ham, Moira Kaye and Rob Mennie, former Gannett news director who now operates the TEGNA station in Jacksonville.

Susan Wilson and Jeff Chapman.

Terry and Rachel Ford.

“Heartland Series” creator Steve Dean and his wife, Nancy. Today he owns Famfive Productions.

Jeff with, from left, his sisters, Clee Lee from Nashville and Elisa Morgan from Denver; Christy’s sister Lorie Dusha from Colorado Springs; and Jeff’s brother, Andy and his wife Trisha Lee from Columbia, Missouri.

The “Vol Network’s” Steve Early with Sarah Echols Miller.

Dave Miller, left, and David Hunt.

From left, Jon and Mintha Roach with Bruce Hartmann.

The Sequoyah Hills Garden Club, of which Christy was a member. From left, Kay Clayton, Sarah Miller, Lezah Pinnell, Paula Herston, Pam Teague and Nancy McBrearty. Jo Ann McCallen is seated.

Bartender Hope displays Christy’s favorite libation. Jeff bought literally cases and cases of it for the event.

From left, George and Susan Wilson, Ann Bodie and John Gill.

Dr. Michael and Fran Petty.

Dr. Steve Morris, left, with George and Stephanie Wallace.

From left, Bruce and Tami Hartman with Jerry Bodie.

From left, David Martin, Pam Fansler and Jon Roach.

Burke Pinnell, left, and George Hommel.

Ben and Sara Hedstrom Pinnell with their son, Henry.

From left, Drs. Barry and Sam Winston with Annette Winston.

From left, Alan Carmichael, Dr. Barry Winston and Jeff.

Margie Nichols announced to Jeff that friends had chipped in to purchase a bench at Lakeshore Park in memory of Christy. “It was the most money ever raised for a bench at Lakeshore,” she said.

Flowers from WBIR in recognition of the station’s “Straight from the Heart” slogan.

Some photos of Christy, a longtime fixture on the Blue Streak, follow.

I believe this was the first time. It was in 2009 at the East Tennessee History Center at a party celebrating Patrick Birmingham being named publisher of the News Sentinel. From left, Bruce Hartmann, Patrick Birmingham, Jeff and Christy Lee.

In 2010 at Regas Restaurant at a party thrown by Moxley Carmichael for people who had been on the Blue Streak the most! From left, Christy, Jeff and Erin Donovan.

At Moxley Carmichael’s client party in 2010. From left, Michael and Judith Foltz with Jeff and Christy.

Jeff and Christy in 2010 at the Expo Center for “Dancing with the Knoxville Stars!”

At The Lunchbox in 2011 for that year’s Blue Streak party. At right are Tami and Bruce Hartmann.

Christy and Jeff in July 2012 at the opening of Chuy’s restaurant.

Labor Day 2012 at a party to watch fireworks at Sarah Stowers’ house. From left, Katie and Blair Kline, Jeff and Christy Lee.

At the 2012 Fantasy of Trees at the Knoxville Convention Center. Christy and Jeff with Kris Budden of WBIR at the time.

At the 2013 Knoxville Symphony Showhouse. (Photo by Tami Hartmann, a guest poster on the Blue Streak.)

In 2013 at a Leadership Knoxville event at Scripps Networks.

In 2014 at an Alexis de Tocqueville Society event celebrating large United Way givers. It was at the Natalie Haslam Music Center at the School of Music.

At Hunter Valley Farm in 2015 for “A Taste of Greece” to raise money for fire-ravaged St. George Greek Orthodox Church.

At the Jackson Terminal in 2015 for the United Way’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society event. From left, Jeff, Randy Gibson, Jim Haslam and Christy.

In 2016 at the UT Gardens Gala.

In 2016 at Coffee Club dinner party at Cherokee Country Club. At left are Jon and Mintha Roach.

With Alan Carmichael and me at a Knoxville Symphony “Elegant Dining” event at the lakeside home of Jenny and Randy Boyd in 2016.

Another photo from that same event. From left, Christy, Jeff, Abby Ham, Randy Boyd and Jenny Boyd, and Russell Biven.

Christy and Jeff at the 2018 Knoxville Symphony League “Showhouse” held at The Tennessean downtown.

Also in 2018, Christy and Jeff at the Lauricella Center at Neyland Stadium for a United Way event.

At the 2018 Knoxville Symphony Ball at Cherokee Country Club. At left is Mary Kellogg-Joslyn.

May 22 of this year at Cherokee Country Club at a dinner of the venerable Coffee Club. From left, Jeff, John Gill, Christy and Alan Carmichael.


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20 Responses to ‘Grief is the price we pay for love.’

  1. Elisa Morgan, on September 19th, 2022 at 4:38 pm said:

    Thanks for this beautiful tribute to Christy and Jeff too! Great photos! We are all so grateful for Jeff’s amazing stable of friends!

  2. Crystal Campbell Pflueger, on September 19th, 2022 at 4:55 pm said:

    Thanks so very much for sharing Christy and Jeff’s love story and the wonderful pictures. They were each other’s true love. I’m so thankful for my friendship with them and the memories I have. She was the best pal EVER.

  3. Trisha Lee, on September 19th, 2022 at 7:35 pm said:

    What a wonderful tribute and so grateful she touched so many lives

  4. Margie Nichols, on September 19th, 2022 at 8:17 pm said:

    Beautiful tribute ❤️ Thank you

  5. Gay Lyons, on September 19th, 2022 at 9:27 pm said:

    What a sweet tribute. I loved reading these & seeing the photos.

  6. Cynthia Moxley, on September 19th, 2022 at 10:27 pm said:

    Elise: It was so great that so many of Christy and Jeff’s relatives were able to come in for the celebration of Christy! Wonderful meeting you all. You really helped Jeff with your presence.

  7. Cynthia Moxley, on September 19th, 2022 at 10:30 pm said:

    Crystal: You are right about their love being so apparent and inspiring. Thanks for your comments.

  8. Cynthia Moxley, on September 19th, 2022 at 10:31 pm said:

    Trisha: Thanks for coming to Knoxville. And for commenting on the Blue Streak.

  9. Cynthia Moxley, on September 19th, 2022 at 10:33 pm said:

    Margie: You have been a rock to Jeff. And to all of us who care about him. Thanks for everything you have done to help the rest of us know how best to help him. Appreciate you, friend.

  10. Cynthia Moxley, on September 19th, 2022 at 10:34 pm said:

    Gay: Thanks.

  11. Patrick Birmingham, on September 20th, 2022 at 6:41 am said:

    Thanks Cynthia. Your tribute shows there were many happy times and a good number of the pictures were of Jeff & Christy at events supporting charitable causes, which demonstrates how much they cared for their community.

  12. Sharon pryse, on September 20th, 2022 at 8:42 am said:

    Mox, thanks for sharing
    We were out of town and unable to attend. This article made us feel part of the event. Cheers to Christy
    And happy birthday to Jeff this week

  13. Cynthia Moxley, on September 20th, 2022 at 9:20 am said:

    Sharon: Thanks. I think Jeff felt the love from you all even though you couldn’t be there.

  14. Cynthia Moxley, on September 20th, 2022 at 9:21 am said:

    Patrick: Yes. They loved this community. And I believe the community loved them back.

  15. Annette Winston, on September 20th, 2022 at 10:30 am said:

    She was such a fun-loving and giving heart. I ache for Jeff every day. They married 3 months after us.

  16. Cile Mathews, on September 20th, 2022 at 10:45 am said:

    Cynthia, thanks for this wonderful tribute to Christy; she was on the board of directors at the Florence Crittenton Agency when I was the CEO. Christy was one of the best board members ever, was always ready to step up and help, and she and Jeff supported the agency in many important ways. I was very sorry to hear about Christy’s untimely death. She will be missed by many people.

  17. Cynthia Moxley, on September 20th, 2022 at 2:11 pm said:

    Annette: I agree. So darn sad.

    Cile: Didn’t know Christy was involved with Florence Crittenton. But not surprised by what a good job she did! Thanks for sharing.

  18. Andy Lee, on September 20th, 2022 at 3:29 pm said:

    Christy was a part of our family for 40+ years. She was vivacious, fun and dearly loved. This Blue Streak is meaningful to our family and we will cherish it. Many thanks to Cynthia for putting it together

  19. Cynthia Moxley, on September 20th, 2022 at 3:56 pm said:

    Andy: Thanks for your sweet comment. I was a big fan of Christy and am crazy about Jeff, too. Glad you could make it last week. I know it was a big comfort to Jeff.

  20. Jane Creef, on September 20th, 2022 at 5:24 pm said:

    We are traveling and could not attend. Thank you for the photos. Made us feel like we were there. We will all miss Christy. Bowling starts next month.

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