Dick Lee was born November 18, 1925, in Linn County, Missouri, where he grew up on a farm. He received a bachelor's degree in agricultural journalism in 1953 and a master's degree in journalism in 1958, both from the University of Missouri. He received a doctorate in mass communications from the University of Iowa in 1967.
Lee's first job in journalism after graduation was as farm editor for the Drovers Journal, a daily livestock newspaper in Chicago.
He joined the Missouri staff in January 1954 as assistant agricultural editor in charge of press service. In 1958, he became associate agricultural editor, and in 1959, he was named agricultural editor. In 1960, he was awarded the academic rank of professor.
At the time of his retirement in 1988, he was chairman of the College of Agriculture's department of extension education, agricultural editor and director of extension information. In 1982, he received the ACE Professional Award.
Lee is a member of Alpha Zeta, Sigma Delta Chi, Kappa Tau Alpha, Gamma Sigma Delta and Epsilon Sigma Phi. In 1982, ACE presented him the ACE Professional Award.
In retirement, Lee has continued to work for the University of Missouri on a variety of projects. He also does freelance writing, photography and teaching and has a small herd of Polled Hereford cattle on his home farm near Columbia.