DSU professor's strength aids recovery process
by Rory Doyle
Sep 28, 2012 | 1485 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Long-time Delta State University professor Dr. Wayne Lee had the worst accident of his life about eight months ago.

For a man who's proudly served his country and DSU, his strength to recover and come back is unparalleled.

The dedicated professor of health, physical education and recreation was attending a DSU football-recruiting visit at the Cleveland Country Club on Jan. 20, 2012, when the accident occurred.

"I was leaving the country club, stepped out and missed a step," said Lee. "I fell down and hit those bones right below my kneecaps; it separated my quadriceps muscles from my kneecaps and I couldn’t walk."

Lee was taken to the emergency room and both knees were operated on two days later. He stayed in the hospital until Feb. 16.

The rare injury to both knees devastated Lee, 78, as he's never known what it's like to be bedridden.

"I've been in the hospital two times in my life; when I was born in May1934, and this time," said Lee.

The hardest part for Lee was being stuck outside his natural environment — the college classroom.

Until the accident, Lee hadn't missed a semester of teaching since his career began in 1970.

"It was miserable and it made me feel like a prisoner after it happened. I love teaching — I'm old school."

Lee's old school mentality comes from a lifetime of serving and leading others.

The U.S. Army drafted the Clinton native in 1957 and he served 18 months attached to a mortar outfit in Germany.

Prior to his service he attended DSU as a student and athlete. From 1955-57 he played basketball for the Statesmen where he and teammate Dr. Kent Wyatt were good enough to beat teams from Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.

Lee then went on to teach and coach at the high school level in Anguilla and Belzoni before earning his doctorate at Southern in 1970.

In the same year he began a 30-year stint teaching in the HPER department at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, La.

Lee said he had always wanted to teach at DSU but a position didn’t open up for him until 2000 — he's been happy to be here ever since.

Still rehabbing from the fall, Lee mustered the strength to return to classroom in August; right back to where he feel's best.

"I'm really excited to be back teaching again," he said. "I enjoy being around students, getting to know them and make an attempt to stamp out a little ignorance."

Relying on knee braces and a walker, the road back has been challenging, but Lee said the support from friends, DSU and the community gave him an extra push.

"I've had a lot of friends take care of me and help me get around — Jimmy Irving, Doug Pinkerton and Ronnie Mayers to name a few. They really carried me here, there and everywhere.

"I couldn’t have gotten back to this point without all the support I've had in town. I've got a lot of good friends here in Bolivar County and Delta State."

Lee has needed the assistance since leaving the hospital while recovering at Indywood Estate Personal Care.

"Everyone at Indywood's been really great, and it's been a good place for rehab."

But the look in Lee's face expresses his desire and determination to bring life closer to normal.

"I've watched so much TV being in bed, watched the Olympics, read some books and worked on a lot of statistics problems by hand — this sort of stuff has kept me from going insane."

He is positive about his recovery and is hoping to return home before month's end.

"In essence I've had to learn to walk all over again," said Lee. "I had to learn to bend my knees, and I'm still working on my quads. I'm hoping by the end of the month to be walking again.

"I just started driving again after seven months. I got in my truck and I felt like a free prisoner driving around to visit all my friends."

Slowly but surely, the Dr. Lee of old is returning; the resilience and grit within wouldn't have it any other way.

"I reckon the message is be close to your family and have a lot of good friends, because you never know when you're going to depend on them. This happened so quick."