Lee Madison Ozley passed into his next life February 11, 2017. He was preceded in death by his wife of 40 years, Terri Dobbratz Ozley, brother Dan, and sister Georgeann Lasch.
Lee was born August 12, 1939 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to the late Edna Earle Head and George Holcombe Ozley. Lee attended Pensacola High School in Florida where he was active in many sports and excelled in baseball. He then went to Auburn University where, in addition to athletics, he was active in Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. As an ROTC member, Lee graduated with honors and was commissioned an officer in the US Airforce. While at Auburn, he met Judy Kelly and married and had two daughters.
After completing his stint in the US Airforce and doing graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, Lee started his business career. His intelligence and ability to get things done was quickly noted and he advanced through the ranks of several Fortune 500 companies. By working his way up through various departments he gained a keen understanding of organizational strengths and weaknesses.
In 1979, Lee started his own company, Responsive Organizations Inc. (ROI), to help organizations, unions, and manufacturers better run their entities through better strategic organizational structure and effective communications.
ROI helped over 180 different and diverse companies better grow their business through his guidance and coaching. The result of their efforts saved thousands of jobs for American workers.
In 1987 Lee started working with Harley Davidson. The company wished to reinvent itself as a company more responsible to its employees, more responsive to the changing motorcycle market, and have product quality second to none. Working with Rich Teerlink, the brilliant and open minded CEO of Harley Davidson, Lee and ROI set about changing the paradigm of how manufacturing is conducted here in the US. In time a deep friendship and respect developed between the two as they worked together to change and steer a large ship in a new direction. Starting with the union employees and working bottom to top, they reshaped the company in ways deemed impossible by most industry observers. Lee and Rich wrote a book, "More Than an Motorcycle" published by Harvard Business Press that documented their journey. The number of Harley Davidson motorcycles on the road today is a testament to their success.
Having merged ROI with the CORE Group in 1991, Lee decided it was time to golf more so he semi-retired to Hilton Head, South Carolina. Not content with enjoying a leisure-filled existence, Lee got involved with several civic and charitable concerns. As a builder at heart, he spent many hours involved with Habitat for Humanity. Using his physical power tools and his organizational tools, the local chapter built homes quicker and more efficiently. The result was more homes being able to be built.
As a voracious reader and crossword puzzle master he spent much time reading and learning. Through friends he learned of a Warden at a South Carolina Prison attempting to try different methods to ensure prisoners who complete their sentences do not return. After contacting the Warden, John Pate, Lee agreed to provide Life Skill and Business Lessons to the inmates of Allendale Correctional Institution. He quickly established a trust and rapport with his new students. Their respect and love for what he was doing for them was demonstrated to him many times with thoughtful gestures and sincere affection. He stated that his work in this endeavor made him the proudest of all his accomplishments. He wrote his fourth and final book "95% What If…" about his mission.
Lee and his wife Terri were happiest every August when they made their annual trek to Capon Springs in West Virginia. They reveled in the quiet throwback theme of 1950's resorts where sitting on your porch and conversing was a main attraction. For over 30 years they made many lifelong friends like Ann Sanders, who they thought of as a third daughter.
Lee did not want to be idolized for these accomplishments, but simply remembered as someone who saw workers hurting, prisoners needing guidance, or disadvantaged people who needed a break, and used his abilities to make their lives more fulfilling and successful.
He was proud of his daughters and their success in life: Kelly Lynn Ozley of Denver, CO, and Tracey Ozley Miller and her husband Jack of Middletown, PA. His grandchildren Adam, Andrea, Logan, Landon, and Tennyson will miss pool time with Grandpa.
He leaves behind those of us who love him, and those inspired and touched by him…but his imprint on our lives will go forward in our hearts forever.
A celebration of Lee's life will be held on Saturday, February 18, 2017 at the TidePointe Club Room, 700 TidePointe Way, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928, from 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Memorial donations may be made to Character Restoration Initiative (CRI) in care of Camille Nairn, P.O. Box 104, Allendale, SC 29810.
Services entrusted to The Island Funeral Home and Crematory. www.theislandfuneralhome.com