Shawn Lee’s bravery was evident as a member of the United States Air Force and on a daily basis with the Wilmington Police Department. But his resolve was never more evident than in the months after he was diagnosed with cancer.
“There was no question he was not going to lay down, just like with everything he did,” said Veteran’s Agent Louis Cimaglia, who got to know Lee through several means over recent years. “He was not going to give up, and there is no question that he never did right up until the end."
Despite his best efforts, Lee was unable to win this fight. The husband and father of two , nearly one year after he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and just one day after he turned 39 years old.
A wake is scheduled for Tuesday from 3-9 p.m. at , while funeral services are slated for 10 a.m. on Wednesday at .
“Shawn battled his illness the way he worked,” said Wilmington Police Lt. Chris Neville. “He didn’t back down to anyone…He was focused, determined and worked very hard to overcome the adversity.”
Selectman Judy O’Connell graduated from Wilmington High School with Lee in 1991, and is tied to him through family connections. O’Connell’s stepfather, Jim Rooney, was Lee’s uncle.
Classmates recently held their 20th reunion, and since Lee was unable to attend, they spent the evening accepting donations in his honor.
“Anyone that knew Shawn liked Shawn,” said O’Connell. “He faced this illness with courage and gave it the biggest battle he could to prevail for his wife, his children and his family. Certainly when someone succumbs to a battle with cancer, it’s devastating for anyone who knew them. But Shawn showed extreme bravery and courage throughout his life.”
On Monday night, the Board of Selectmen began its meeting with a moment of silence in Lee’s honor, and concluded the session by sharing condolences to Lee’s family.
Town Manager Michael Caira said in the times he spoke with Lee, it was evident he was a tremendous family man and an asset to the Wilmington Police Department.
“When he passed away, there was a profound sense of sadness that the entire community experienced,” said Caira. “People certainly will miss him, and remember him for his valor.”
Wilmington Police Chief Michael Begonis said the loss of Lee has hit his department hard. The lifelong town resident was well-known and well-respected among his peers.
“Police officers by their very nature want to get involved and fix things, make them better,” said Begonis. “Although there was nothing they could do to help Shawn fight his cancer, they can now step up and help his family moving forward.”