Magical mortician: Funeral home owner doubles as a magician

A White Plains man has a unique way of helping uplift the living with the loss of loved ones.
Teddy Lee, 81, is the owner of Lee’s Funeral Home.  He is also an accomplished magician.
The funeral home is one of the oldest family-run small businesses in Westchester. Families have turned to the business for comfort in their times of grief for more than a century.
Lee started working at the funeral home 75 years ago at the age of 7 – following in the footsteps of his father who opened the business in 1915.
He admits that dealing with death daily can be difficult, but realized a long time ago that the best way to live is to do what you love. So when Lee is not preparing bodies for burial, he is performing as a magician.
“When I do magic, it takes me away from the business itself,” he says. “I just like it. I don't know if I’m addicted to it or whatever.”
The love of magic started when Lee signed up for a hobbyist class at the White Plains adult education school – back when his children were first learning to walk. Back then, there wasn’t much diversity in the field of funeral directing or magic.
“I never really heard of too many black magicians,” he says.
But soon, word of his unique talent got out.  Then came awards and accolades, including one from the oldest magic organizations on the planet – who named him Magician of the Year.  The title was once held by Harry Houdini.
Lee says he has lost track of all of his gigs. While there are fewer shows and smaller crowds, he insists he has no intention of slowing down.
“I believe God has something for me to do,” he says. “I think his plan for me is where we leave some kind of legacy where you did the best to please people, make someone laugh, smile.”