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Alton Lee Lively, 89, of Virginia Beach, passed away on Oct. 12, 2016 in Virginia Beach. “Lee” was born in Portsmouth, Va. to the late Reverdy Clarence and Charlotte Elizabeth Ewald Lively on Sept. 20, 1927. He was a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School and studied at The College of William and Mary.
Lee was a founding member and elder of Thalia Trinity Presbyterian Church, where he was a faithful member of the choir. Lee Lively was an actor, voice-over talent and incredible portrait artist. Acting credits include many local little theater and dinner theater productions as well as TV and feature film roles. On television he played Judge Caldwell for 12 episodes on “Matlock” in the early 1990’s and was also in “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles,” “Lincoln” and the mini-series “Dream West.” His movie credits include roles in “Prince of Tides” and Zelly and Me.” He was on the board of directors at Studio Center in Norfok and was the on-air spokesperson for many companies across the country. One could hear his distinctive voice in Las Vegas (Walker Furniture), New York, Los Angeles, or right here in town. His broad range of characters and dialects kept him busy in the studio for over five decades. His portrait work graces many homes, boardrooms and offices. His work is also featured in the East Tennessee Hall of Fame for the Performing Arts.
In 1972, he was commissioned to establish a portrait-centered news graphic service for syndication to the television news organizations. Since then his portraits of world leaders in politics, business, sports and the performing arts have been seen in millions of homes on more than 280 television stations and cable systems across the United States and Canada. He was most revered for his ability to capture both the likeness and the personality of those he painted.
Lee was a member of Screen Actors Guild, Portrait Club of New York (Portrait Institute), The Society of Illustrators and the American Portrait Society Certified. He served as a faculty member of the annual National Portrait Seminar in New York and the Nation Artists Seminar in Chicago.
He hosted the Azalea Festival (Norfolk NATO Festival) for many years at the Botanical Gardens and was a longtime member of the Virginia Beach Chorale.
A dear friend writes, “Lee Lively was a fountain of creativity. Talent poured from him in so many ways. He painted; he was a musician, singer, actor and could flavor his stories with every accent known on this planet and then some! He had an unparalleled sense of humor that grabbed life by the throat and brightened up everyone around him. Above all, he was a loyal friend, thoughtful and generous person, a sharer of many martinis and colorful memories.”
He will be most remembered by those who knew him as one who loved a good joke and the entertaining company of good friends and family. He was a true entertainer until the end.
Lee was preceded in death by his parents and his first wife, Catherine “ChiChi” Thomson Lively.
He is survived by his loving wife of 36 years, Sandra Nettles Lively; devoted children, David M. Lively (Katie) of Chicago, Ill., Peter F. Lively (Laurie) of Virginia Beach, Michelle Elizabeth Lively of Virginia Beach; adoring grandchildren, Jenna Catherine Lively and Brian Thomson Lively; and many cousins.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, at Thalia Trinity Presbyterian Church, 420 Thalia Rd., Virginia Beach, Va. at 11:00 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests making donations to the Alzheimer’s Association in Lee’s memory. To make a contribution to the memorial fund, please click here.
The family of Alton Lee Lively extends sincere thanks to Sentara Nursing Center Rosemont for their care and support over the past five months.