Frances Michalene (Mike) Lee went home to heaven to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on June 19, 2018 at Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan, AL. She passed peacefully from this world surrounded by her family and loved ones following a lengthy illness. She was a faithful servant of Christ for her entire life, having make a profession of faith while a child. At the time of her passing, she was a member of First Baptist Church in Bonifay, Florida.
Mike, as she was affectionately known to all of her family, friends and loved ones, was born in Panama City, Florida on July 20, 1953 and to her parents Francis B. Hays and Mellie V. Hays. She was raised in Chipley, Florida during her youth and graduated from Chipley High School in 1971. At the time of her passing, she was 64 years old.
She is survived by her husband of 45 years James W. (Bill) Lee, daughters Ashley L Hall and husband Dave, Abby L. Register and husband Thomas, Anna M. Bagley and her husband Garrett. She is also survived by her 9 grandchildren – Kayleigh Hall, Kami Hall, Kloe Hall, Samuel Hall, Maddie Moore, Marlaina Register, Tatum Register, Landon Register and Berklee Bagley, mother Juanita Hays, brother George Hays and wife Jane, sister Cindy Mitchell and husband Lee, 7 nephews, 4 nieces and 13 great nieces and nephews. Preceding her in death were her parents and niece Kasi Mitchell.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Mike began working in the banking business with the Florida National Bank in Chipley as a teller and eventually became the head teller. After marrying in February 1973, she and her husband Bill moved to Pensacola, Florida in January of 1974 for him to continue his college education. She transferred to the Florida National Bank in Pensacola and quickly rose through the ranks there to the position of “office in training”. When he completed his degree, they moved to Calhoun County, Florida and she continued her banking career for several more years at the Florida Bank in Chipley again for several months and then at the Ellis Bank in Blountstown. After a period of time in the banking business, she decided she wanted to do something different and opened a small restaurant in Altha, Florida known as the Wildcat’s Den for a period of time.
When her husband accepted a position as a principal in Bonifay in the summer of 1983, she again worked in the banking business for a short time at the Bank of Bonifay. But after just a few months, she began to experience a calling and desire to work with small children. And shortly thereafter, Mike began working in her true and passionate calling of life by opening The Caring Place Daycare and Childcare Center which was located at the First United Methodist Church. After several years of operation in the church facilities, the daycare operation outgrew the space available and Mike and Bill purchased a piece of property and relocated the childcare center to this new location.
Upon moving, the name of the childcare operation was changed to Littlest Angels Early Learning Center. She continued to own and operate this childcare and pre-school center until closing the business in 2013. In total, Mike owned and operated these two childcare and pre-school programs for over 25 years meeting the needs of hundreds of families and children during these years in Bonifay.
She then began working in the banking business again as the Chipley office branch manager for the Bank of Bonifay. She continued in this work until the bank was closed and taken over by a different company. She stayed out of work for a time but after several months, she began working for the Washington County School Board as the lead pre-kindergarten teacher at Vernon Elementary School in the fall of 2014. She continued in this capacity for 3 years until being forced to discontinue work in the fall of 2017 due to her health.
During her years of owning and operating childcare centers and pre-schools and while working with the school district as a pre-kindergarten teacher, she touched the lives of hundreds of children. She loved to work with children and help them learn on a daily basis. Without a doubt, working with young children was her true passion and calling in life.
Mike loved people and was a gracious and caring person to all she met. She was always willing to go the extra mile to help someone in need and truly had a servant’s heart. She liked to travel, loved her family and friends deeply and enjoyed spending time with those she loved, especially her grandchildren. One of her favorite activities was to gather several of the grandchildren up and take them all to the latest movie playing on the big screen. These trips always included large buckets of buttered popcorn, candy treats and drinks. She was a great cook with one of her specialties being to prepare large pans of dressing with all of the trimmings at Thanksgiving and Christmas each year. She also loved to decorate her home at Christmas time annually and to display her large collection of Santa Claus and snowman statues. She loved music and enjoyed singing with a beautiful voice, especially as she traveled down the road on family trips.
She will be missed greatly by her family, loved ones, and her many friends. Heaven is a little more lively than just a few days ago with her joining the heavenly choir.
A visitation will be held on Saturday, June 23, 2018 from 12:30-2:00 PM at First Baptist Church of Bonifay with a celebration of life service to follow at 2:00 PM with Rev. Ed Creel, Dr. Shelly Chandler and Rev. Ike Steverson officiating with Sims Funeral Home directing.
In honor of Mike and her love for small children, the family asked that donations be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Children’s Miracle Network or Make A Wish Foundation in lieu of flowers.