Broadcasting and Women’s Rights Trailblazer Passes


Lee mug

A Florida broadcasting pioneer passed away a few weeks ago, but not one cut from the usual cloth of engineer, on-air personality, or station owner. She is someone that every woman who has since made a good living selling local broadcast radio or television time is indebted.

Lee Colee Hamilton was likely the first female broadcast salesperson in Florida. Her obituary, penned herself, says it best:

“Lee never campaigned for women’s equal rights. She just took them. As early as grade school when a publisher offered a bicycle for the most magazine sales in Philadelphia, but excluded girls, Lee signed up under her brother’s name and won the citywide contest. It launched a life-long love affair with work and its rewards.”

You can read the full obit here:

Her name was Leanore Dippy when she got her first job at Orlando’s WLOF as an “office girl” and copywriter. The story of how she broke into the all-boys-club of street sales is, I believe, among the best in my book. You can read the full story here:

After becoming the top salesperson at WLOF she married my father, Donn R. Colee Sr., who was general manager of the station at the time. Together they put Orlando’s second television station, WLOF Channel 9 (now WFTV), on the air; then, after being recruited by MetroMedia owner John Kluge, became what Broadcasting magazine said was the only husband-wife management team in the country, evaluating and managing TV stations from Kansas City to Washington, DC. They divorced in 1968 but remained business partners and best friends until her death. She married Harry Hamilton in 1973 and, living in Palm Beach County, began a new career in commercial real estate—another very successful business partnership.

Lee was one of a kind and will be missed by all who knew her.

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