Ms. Alice and Ms. Nelle were all about empowering women even back before that became the popular thing to do. I bet she’s up in heaven right now with my daddy and Ms. Alice sitting on a front porch smoking a cigarette!”Bryan Sellers, who grew up across the road from Harper Lee
Photo shows Bryan Sellers and his dog, Lt. Dan.
BIRMINGHAM – Alabama lost one of its most valued treasures this morning when Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee passed away in her sleep in her hometown of Monroeville.
Published in 1960, her overnight sensation, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” soon found its place on the required reading lists for many schools with generations of readers citing it as a favorite.
Born in Monroeville in 1926, Nelle Harper Lee, Ms. Nelle to friends and family, was the youngest of four children born to A.C. and Francis Lee. Lee was closest to her eldest sibling, Ms. Alice Lee, who was fifteen years her senior.
The elder sister, a fierce attorney much like their father, began her law career in the 1940s after graduating from Birmingham School of Law and practiced until the age of 100. Alice Lee died in 2014 at the age of 103.
Due to the sisters’ desire for privacy, fierce loyalty to each other and Ms. Alice’s keen law skills, most Harper Lee fans could only speculate about her as a person. But, most fans didn’t grow up across the road and attend Monroeville First United Methodist Church with Ms. Alice and Harper Lee, when she was home to stay for a spell.
Birmingham teacher and Monroeville native, Bryan Sellers, did happen to grow up in that house across the road and go to church with the Lees.
Sellers shared, “Ms. Nelle was a great woman who loved to sit and talk to my sister about life and love and the things girls talk about. I was just the little kid brother who asked too many questions,” he laughed.
With many news outlets on their way to Monroeville today, Sellers mused, “My mama is mad because the entire world is heading to the neighborhood right now. If the BBC gets in her yard again and trounces her azaleas, she might get after them with a pitchfork!
“Ms. Alice and Ms. Nelle were all about empowering women even back before that became the popular thing to do. I bet she’s up in heaven right now with my daddy and Ms. Alice sitting on a front porch smoking a cigarette!”
To us, Harper Lee was larger than life and wrapped in mystery. We are missing who we think Lee might have been. A gifted teacher in Birmingham is missing his neighbor and dear family friend.
For more on this story, be sure to pick up the printed edition of CullmanSense on Monday, Feb. 22.