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Mary Lee - 1999 Inductee


Formerly of Mary Lee Tours Mary H. Lee Mary H. Lee, retired founder and owner of Mary Lee Travel Agency in Latrobe, PA; and former president of NTBA. A member of NTBA since 1964, she served as its president in 1971. A dedicated volunteer, Lee helped to raise the standards for everyone in the travel industry through her work ethic, her drive to always keep growing and her conscientious approach to dealing with everyone she met. “She was always very pleasant,” recalled Lois Anderson, past NTA president, “always enthusiastic and eager to help.” Lee began her own travel agency, the Mary Lee Agency, in 1932, when steamship travel was the ticket to the world. After World War II, Lee realized the potential of airflight, and she taught herself the ins and outs of airplane travel. “No one came to teach me about writing tickets or reading schedules,” she once said. “I had to learn it on my own. I really prayed the first time that those tickets I had written put the people on the right airplane.” By the early 1960s, her business was thriving, and she began booking motorcoach tours. Very often she would include special events not included on the itinerary to make the tour that much more exciting and memorable. “She would always have a surprise,” said her cousin, Dr. T. Jean Mazero. “Her tours had quite a reputation in town!” In 1964 Lee became a member of NTBA. Three years later she became a board member. Over time she became more and more involved, becoming secretary, then vice president, and finally, in 1971, president of NTBA. In doing so she became the first woman ever to head a major travel industry association. “A lot of it was a willingness to work,” recalled NTA past president Mikie Well, CTP. “The organization was much smaller back then, and there were a few volunteers like Mary Lee, who just spent hours and hours of volunteer time. She was meticulous, organized and very smart. And she was so unassuming…you would never even have a thought about arguing with her.” Lee retired in 1984 at the age of 75. She remained involved with NTA, though, continuing to attend and participate in the annual Conventions and meetings. She particularly loved to participate in education-oriented functions. And even when she could no longer attend the Conventions, she still remained connected through the newsletters and updates. “She loved NTA,” said Dr. Mazero, who had taken care of Lee for the past few years. “That was her life.” In 1999 Lee was inducted into the National Tourism Foundation Hall of Fame. It was a wonderful, final tribute to a career that spanned 50 years, and a life lived in excellence. She will be missed. Mary Lee , passed away on Friday, July 21, 2000