Lee honored for community service

Elizabeth Lee leads an exercise class at Loudon County Senior Center.

Loudon resident Elizabeth Lee will be recognized for community service when she’s inducted into the Ageless Hall of Fame in May.

The hall was organized by nonprofit Senior Citizens Home Assistance Service as a way to recognize 16 adults in East Tennessee, age 60 or older, each year for their involvement in the community. The idea is to ensure individual efforts are noticed.

Lee was one of four candidates from Loudon County, including Clayton Pangle, Imogene Puckett and Howard Kastner. Lee made the cut to go with 15 others in the region.

“I think everybody needs that way-to-go and just to be recognized for what they do,” Becky Wallace, Loudon County Senior Center director, said. “I know they’re not doing it to get recognized, but they need to be recognized for the impact that they make on everybody’s everyday life.”

Lee, who will be 80 next month, for years has offered her services to the Loudon County Senior Center as a fitness instructor for Total Fitness, Stay Active and Independent for Life classes.

She has taught aerobics for 39 years, beginning at age 40 at First Baptist Concord because she wanted a job and to stay home with her children.

One day after she moved to Loudon, she walked into the senior center and submitted her resume.

“I wanted to teach exercising,” Lee said with a laugh. “I wanted to stay fit. You know it’s very hard to do it at home. I don’t care — you can fill your room with everything, but if you do not have a class you don’t usually go.”

She can be found leading classes 9-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Exercise is it,” Lee said. “But I’m not trying to say if you can’t exercise — because you do go through things. I have a lady in there in a wheelchair. You can still exercise, and if you keep moving … it does help you mentally because a lot of my routines I put music to routines that you have to learn here (the mind) and then it works your body.”

Working the mind and body is something Lee finds important.

Lee was also recognized for community service she has done over the years, including 10 years as a counselor for Pregnancy Crisis Center in Maryville, a leader of the Arthritis Foundation Walk with Ease program and, more recently, an organizer for a community call for prayer.

“My husband and I are trying to gather all churches, all denominations to come together and pray for America, for the schools and for our children,” Lee said. “In other words, the Bible says you live a long life that you may show the glory of the Lord to the next generation, and I tell you I’m a private person, I don’t go around.

“The women say, ‘Hey, I want to lose weight, my daughter’s losing weight. Would you help me?’ I say, ‘OK,’ and show them how to lose weight, exercise and get ready for the wedding and things like that,” she added. “Just helping each other.”

The induction ceremony is 11:30 a.m. May 16 at Bridgewater Place in Knoxville.

Lee joked that she hopes she doesn’t have to give a speech.

“Really and truly it’s just to reach out and help others,” she said.

The recognition is truly deserved, Wallace said.

“If she knows that you’re in the hospital or you’re going through sickness or death or something just going on, she will be the first to pick up the phone or even come to the hospital or home,” Wallace said. “They are more besides an instructor and client, they are more family. They have a strong bond and if you miss a class you better believe she’s going to pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on? Is everything OK?’”