Alma Lee (nee Grunberg) was born on 30 April 1914 in Switzerland, but spent the majority of her life in England. Alma was a collector for over seventy years and ultimately became an integral member of the international philatelic community, having established a reputation as a leading collector of Swiss material. Her high standing in Swiss philatelic circles was duly recognised by her election to the Concillium Philatelicum Helveticae as the only non-resident member.
While her main personal collecting interest centred around Switzerland which she collected in a very comprehensive way from the pre-adhesive period through to the modern day, Alma also collected France, Israel, Russian Zemstoys and Thematics. The earlier sections of her Swiss collection gained large gold medals at NABA 84, STOCKHOLMIA 86, HAFINA 87 and FINLANDIA 88 and were shown in the Court of Honour at PHILEXFRANCE 89 and NEW ZEALAND 90.
Throughout her life Alma was always strongly involved in philately at local and regional levels and was very committed to helping younger collectors. She served as President of the London Swiss Philatelic Society from 1982-1991 and spent ten years as a Council member of the National Philatelic Society.
Alma was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Philatelic Society in 1969 and to Honorary Fellowship, a very rare distinction in 1999. She was also the recipient of the London Medal of the Society for her dedicated work over many years in the library and the Expert Committee. Her other philatelic activities have included being a UK’National judge for over twenty years and authorship of a booklet entitled “Introducing Thematic Philately”.
In 1991 Alma was invited to sign the roll of Distinguished Philatelists at the British Philatelic Congress held in Cardiff, a well deserved recognition of her contribution to philately. Alma had married Ronald Lee another signatory in 1979 and it created an outstanding partnership, a unique feature of which was the cachet of being the only couple to both be RDP’s.
Alma Lee’s philatelic achievements more than speak for themselves. She was a distinguished and highly respected member of the philatelic community, but her outstanding generosity in gifting her collection to the Royal Philatelic Society to provide the means to upgrade its premises should enshrine her name to future generations of collectors. This gesture exemplified her commitment to, and love of the hobby which had given her so much personal pleasure. In doing so, she knew that not only would collectors derive similar delight from owning items that she herself had cherished, but that the proceeds would enable long term benefits to be provided for the enjoyment and study of philatelic material.