Greg Lee was mechanically inclined from a young age, regularly tinkering with small engines and getting under the hood while growing up in New Brighton. So when it came time to look for work, he set out to make a living in maintenance. At 22 years old, referred by a friend, he applied and was hired as a Cleaner at Nicollet Garage. It was the first of several jobs Lee would hold over the course of his nearly 39-year career at Metro Transit. “It was odd hours, but I needed the work and the people were friendly,” Lee said shortly before retirement. “And it was what I’d call a reasonable atmosphere – no one expected more of you than you could give.”
That doesn’t mean Lee had limited expectations for himself, however. Shortly after joining what was then the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC), Lee bid up to a Helper position and began assisting Mechanic Technicians at the old Snelling Garage and, later, cleaning parts at the Overhaul Base. The on-the-job training helped him move into a Mechanic Technician role himself, performing tune-ups, repairing bulkheads, swapping engines, rebuilding transmissions and, for nearly a decade, doing rehab work in the Body Shop. “I was really fortunate to have people around me who had experience who could help me,” Lee said.
After three decades in Bus Maintenance, Lee moved to Facilities Maintenance where he continued to acquire new skills – hauling trailers, operating skid steers and, in one memorable case, using a jack hammer to remove a bench and setting it back into place with quick-drying concrete. Lee was among the first Facilities Maintenance employees assigned to the METRO Blue Line, helped install and repair countless customer waiting shelters and was regularly up before dawn to clear snow at transit facilities across the Twin Cities. Lee said he enjoyed being outdoors and the challenges that came with the constantly-changing work. “This is the kind of job where you have to think on your feet,” he said. “You have to go out and just figure out how to get the job done. You have to be a problem solver.” Whatever the assignment, Lee took pride in mastering the task and leaving a small footprint. “My motto’s always been if you can’t tell I did anything than I must’ve been doing my job,” he said.
Lee retired in January 2018, with nearly 39 years of service. In retirement, he planned to spend time camping and traveling, including an extended visit to Europe and a mission trip to Guatemala. Lee was joined at his retirement by wife Diane, son Mike and daughters Missy and Michelle.