June 23, 2021

Dr. Lee T. Lemon

Dr. Lee T. Lemon

January 8, 1931 ~ June 20, 2021

Dr. Lee Thomas Lemon, 90, passed away on June 20, 2021. He was born January 8, 1931, in Kansas City, Missouri, and adopted by Margaret Baldwin and Forest Lemon. Lee moved around the Midwest as a child, eventually settling in Belleville, Illinois, for high school. Lee worked his way through college and graduate studies, received his Bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University, and his Master’s degree in English from Southern Illinois University in 1952. Shortly after, he was drafted into the army during the Korean conflict and was stationed in Alaska in 1953.

Lee completed his education when he received his Doctorate degree in English from the University of Illinois in 1961. Shortly thereafter he was offered and accepted the position of associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. An accomplished author and scholar, Lee was offered and accepted a full tenured professor position at the University in 1965. The book he wrote based on his doctoral thesis, The Partial Critics, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize the same year. His books are still in print and used in classrooms 50 years later. Despite many offers from universities and colleges across the country, he stayed at UNL and finished his career there.

Lee was interested in everything, read voraciously, and had an exceptional memory for all he read. He could speak with authority on almost any subject. He taught all of his children to love and respect learning and also the value of making intelligent, informed decisions. He loved music, singing folksongs, and playing classical guitar.

A devoted and loving father, Lee is survived by his four children Kris (Bill Rogers) Lewis, Jeff (Liz) Lemon, Kathy (Bob) Dawson and Greg (Carrol) Lemon; adopted children Alaina Lemon and Rollin Lemon; ten grandchildren, as well as many great grandchildren.

There will be a private service for family only. Memorials in Dr. Lemon’s name may be directed toward the organization of the donor’s choice.








  1. Lee was a regular at our Great Books discussions for several years. He was always full of sharp wit and his mind was packed with knowledge of about books, authors and their milieu. He enriched our discussions immeasurably, and we really enjoyed knowing him.

    • Professor Lemon was a tremendous teacher and scholar. He challenged my mind every class I took from him. I often think and repeat what he taught me about writing and literature. He and Marie were mentors during my college career at UNL.

  2. To the Dawson/Lemon family members:

    Please accept our condolences on Lee’s passing. He sounds like he was a remarkable fellow and his presence will be missed.

  3. Dr. Lemon was one of my favorite UNL Professors. He was the best! He excused me from the last week of his class in the summer of 1970 so that I could get married and begin my first teaching position at Lincoln Northeast. Of course I would teach English as inspired by Dr. Lemon. I remember Dr. Lemon very fondly.

  4. Dr. Lemon’s wisdom and charitable sympathy were truly exemplary as both scholar and teacher. He influences me in the present, though I merely sat in a class of his in the late sixties and seventies – in his passion for literature, the breadth of his interests, the wisdom of his interpretations, and his ability to not just make the literature live but apply those insights to the world. Forty years later, his core arguments were quoted in my syllabi and his anecdotes peppered my lectures. A friend’s poetry in those years owed much to Lemon’s freshman English class, Partial Critics was a treasured book I passed on to my son-in-law as he started grad school. He touched many of us who didn’t know him personally but felt the warmth he brought to his discipline and the discipline he brought to close reading.


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