Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection


Don Nicoll

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 263


Shepard (Lifshitz) “Shep” Lee was born in Lewiston, Maine on November 13, 1926 to Ethel and Joe Lifshitz. His parents were both Russian immigrants, his mother a housewife, and his father an automobile dealer after the Depression. He attended the Lewiston Public Schools, graduating from Lewiston High School in 1943. He then went on to Bowdoin College, taking a break from college between 1945 and 1946 to enlist in the Navy. He returned to Bowdoin after his service, and graduated in 1947 with a degree in government and economics. At that time, he and his brother also changed their names to Lee to avoid discrimination against Jews in education and in careers. Lee returned to Lewiston after graduation, and went to work at his father’s automobile dealership. Soon after, he became active in Lewiston-Auburn Democratic politics. In 1956, he was campaign manager to Frank Coffin’s Congressional campaign. In 1963, he bought out his father’s partner in the automobile dealership, and eventually took over the entire business. Lee was an active Democrat during and after Ed Muskie’s career. He was a key fundraiser for the Maine Democrats, and loaned many vehicles to campaigning candidates over the course of his career. He retired from his automobile dealership in the late 1990s.

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: Lewiston, Maine community; discrimination and anti- Semitism in Lewiston; personal side of Senator Muskie; campaign insights; Muskie anecdotes; Muskie’s opinions on abortion and the limits of being liberal; LA Times article concerning Muskie’s relationship with President Johnson about Vietnam; Muskie’s relationship with his family; and staff anecdotes.

Use Restrictions

Copyright Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.