LEE, WILLIAM GRANVILLE (29 Nov. 1860-1 Nov. 1929), leader of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen for more than a quarter of a century, was born in La Prarie, Ill, the son of James and Sylvesta (Tracey) Lee. He began his railroading career as a telegraph operator in 1877 and worked on several railroads as a brakeman and conductor 1879-95, including the Santa Fe, Wabash, and Union Pacific roads. Lee joined the Brotherhood in 1889, was elected vice grand-master in 1895, and president in January 1909, relocating to Cleveland, the Brotherhood's headquarters. He maintained a disciplined organization which included both roadmen and yardmen in its membership, leading successful strikes on the Southern Pacific, the Delaware and Hudson, and the Chicago Belt railroads in 1913 and 1914. Lee and representatives from the other railway brotherhoods successfully fought to extend the 8-hour day to employees on interstate railroads, which became part of the 1916 Adamson Law. During the 1919-20 negotiations to return the railroads to private ownership Lee, seeking to preserve labor's wartime gains, broke a wildcat strike by the Switchmen's Union of North America by putting loyal membership into yard service and arranging to reroute trains around important strikebound yards. A conservative unionist, Lee took the lead in persuading the Brotherhoods to accept the Railway Labor Board's disappointing wage decision in 1921. He remained president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen until 1928.
Lee married Mary Rice of Chicago in 1901; they had no children. He died at his home in Lakewood and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.