Ernest Henry Lee-Steere

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Sir Ernest Henry Lee-Steere, KBE (22 December 1912 – 9 January 2011) was a prominent Australian businessman. He was particularly noted for his involvement in horse racing in Western Australia, becoming chairman of the Western Australian Turf Club from 1963 to 1984. He was also Lord Mayor of Perth from 1972 to 1978.


Lee-Steere was born on 22 December 1912. He was a Captain in the AIF in the Army/Air Liaison Group, serving with No. 1 Squadron, RAAF Beauforts, 31 Squadron Beaufighter, RAAF, South West Pacific Area, during World War II.[1]

Lee-Steere's interest in the sport of horse racing followed his father's; the latter had been Chairman of the Western Australian Turf Club (WATC) from 1919 to 1940. Lee-Steere joined the WATC in 1933 and was elected to the committee in 1948. He became Vice-Chairman in 1959 and was Chairman for 21 years from 1963.[2] The headquarters of Racing and Wagering Western Australia were opened in 1986 and named Lee-Steere House after him,[3] and the Lee Steere Stakes is a $200,000 Group 2, three-year-old 1,400-metre Feature race run annually at Ascot Racecourse in Perth.

Lee-Steere died on 9 January 2011, aged 98.[4][5]


Lee-Steere was descended from one of the prominent so-called six hungry families of Perth, which included his great uncle, Sir James George Lee Steere (1830-1903) and father Sir Ernest Augustus Lee Steere (1866-1957). He was the son of E. A. Lee Steere and his wife Bridget Yelverton O'Connor (the youngest daughter of C. Y. O'Connor; she was prominent in her own right, as Commissioner of Girl Guides in Western Australia for about 17 years).[6] He was married to Jessica Lee-Steere (née Venn) for 60 years, and was predeceased by his wife in 2001.[7]

Two of Lee-Steere's sons died in WW2, and he created the sanctuary at St Stephen's Anglican Church, Toodyay in their memory.[8]

Lee-Steere's daughter Jemma is noted for being partner to Perth businessman Ric Stowe for 10 years from 1980. After the relationship ended, she sued Stowe for A$250 million.[9]

Lee-Steere's other daughter, Vynka, was briefly an actress, appearing in the Australian soap-opera Certain Women, before later attaining a Ph.D in Psychology and operating a private practice in Perth.


Lee-Steere was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year's Honours of 1988.[10]


  1. ^ "WX30919, Captain Ernest Lee-Steere, A.L.O. A.I.F : Army/Air Liaison Group, serving with no. 1 squadron, R.A.A.F. Beauforts, 31 Squadron Beaufighter, R.A.A.F., South West Pacific Area." SLWA catalogue. Retrieved 2009-03-21. [permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Thoroughbred Associate Inductees – Sir Ernest Lee Steere (Born 1912)". The West Australian Racing Industry Hall Of Fame. 2007. Archived from the original on 23 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  3. ^ "Thoroughbred Racing in WA". Racing and Wagering Western Australia. 2007. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  4. ^ PTT Forum
  5. ^ Death notice, The Age, 10 January 2011
  6. ^ "Assessment Documentation – Residence, 52 Mount Street". Place number 04342. Heritage Council of Western Australia. Archived from the original (pdf) on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 2013-04-27. 
  7. ^ "Former lord mayor dies at 98". the West Australian. 10 January 2011. p. 3. 
  8. ^ "Personal". Perth Gazette. Perth. 13 March 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  9. ^ "Stowe in new $102m battle with tax man". The West Australian. 28 September 2006. Archived from the original on 16 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  10. ^ "Lee-Steere, Ernest Henry". Its An Honour. Retrieved 2009-03-21. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Lee Steere, Ernest Henry, Oral History OH2533, February–March 1993, Tape 1 [held at J. S. Battye Library of WA History].
  • The Lee Steeres, Pioneering Families of WA, in Weekend News, supplement, 28/1/1967, p. 9.