Earl D. Lee (born 1931, died 1998) married Betty Belcher and worked in his father-in-law’s feed and grocery business before running as a deputy with Claude Abercrombie in 1960 when two candidates for deputy ran on a ticket with a candidate for sheriff. When Abercrombie was elected in 1964, Lee became chief deputy.
In the 1972 election, the Lithia Springs native ran for the top post in a hot political contest. Lee won 3,873 votes to Abercrombie’s 3,032. Retiring at the end of 1992, he made an unsuccessful attempt at a comeback in 1996 but was hampered by poor health.
Innovations during Lee’s term included a S.W.A.T. team and in-service training. His investigative techniques, including work on the Atlanta missing and murdered children’s case, were widely recognized. During his term, the new county jail was opened on May 13, 1993.
Lee and his wife, Betty, were the parents of three daughters.