LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — An inspiration and a pioneer for aspiring entrepreneurs: that’s how friends and acquaintances of Kenny Lee remember the CEO of Lee’s Discount Liquor. Lee was killed in a crash last Friday in northern Nevada.
Many in the Las Vegas business community remember Lee for “the infectious smile, the energy and charisma that he had," said Randy Char with Las Vegas Sotheby's International.
News of Lee's death came just months after his father, Hae Un Lee, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. Friends told 13 Action News Kenny Lee always had a sunny personality.
“He just brings joy to people's lives, and you just don’t find people like him that are often so giving but also so social,” Char said.
Char, who knew Lee in professional and philanthropic circles, says he had a selfless and charitable personality. Lee gave millions of dollars in donations to various community initiatives.
“He has this kind of quiet confidence and he’s just so giving, but he does it in a way that’s low-key and you can tell it’s not about him,” Char said.
Evan Louie, another professional acquaintance and local entrepreneurm, sees Kenny Lee as a role model for entrepreneurs after humble beginnings with his family immigrating from South Korea to create Nevada’s largest liquor retailer.
“They’re one of the iconic businesses here that are Asian American that thrived and very successful,” Louie said.
He says Kenny Lee was always present in the community and a positive influence wherever he went.
“He generally had a good disposition, so there’s always somebody saying good things and, 'oh, you should reach out to Kenny Lee!.' He was a connector as well,” he said.
A connector that wanted to put the Vegas community first.
“He really believed in the city. Really believed in what the city has to offer and the future, so he will be sadly missed,” Char said.
There are plans to have a public vigil Friday morning at the Lee’s Discount Liquor store at the corner of Azure and Tenaya at 9:30 a.m. where people can pay their respects. The Lee family is requesting that, in lieu of flowers, donations are made instead to New Vista.