Lee was born in Buffalo, New York. He served in the United States Navy from 1952 until 1956. He graduated from Colgate University in 1960. He was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1975 until 1978. He was elected to Congress in 1978 and represented New York's 33rd congressional district from January 3, 1979 until January 3, 1983. He is currently a resident of Alexandria, Virginia.