Celebrating Sugar Land’s Son Mayor Lee Duggan, Jr.

Peggy and Mayor Lee Duggan.

FEATURE | By Tanya Sterling –

Sugar Land’s son and former mayor, Lee Manning Duggan, Jr, passed away on March 31st after living a full life filled with faith, family, ranching, farming and public service.  “One of my favorite memories was sitting in church with my dad, and he would play tic-tac-toe with my friends and I,” recalled Duggan’s youngest daughter, Pam Duggan Gray. “My mom was the choir director, so I always had to sit with just my dad in church. I look back on that and cherish those memories.”

The Early Years

A Houston native, the banker’s son from Riverside married Peggy Boston, a banker’s daughter, from Angleton on September 30th, 1950 and were married for 67 years before Peggy passed away in 2017. A member of the Texas A&M class of 1949 and a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Duggan and his wife eventually settled their family in Sugar Land.

During those years, Duggan ran a heavy equipment business plus farmed and ranched in Brazoria County. In addition to some real estate brokering, he also helped with the family fence business and then ran for city office.

Mayor Lee Duggan running down Highway 90 with the Olympic Torch as it makes its way through Sugar Land when the games were held in Atlanta in 1996.

“Even though my dad was always busy, he took the time to teach me how to drive,” reminisced Debbie Duggan Gamble, Duggan’s first of three children. “Because there was no garbage service where we lived, he let me drive the truck to the garbage dump on Oil Field Road. Of course, he was critiqu-ing me the entire way. He could be quite intimidating, but he taught me well. Never gotten a ticket yet!”

“I fondly recall Dad taking me with him to the ranch, especially when we were working cows and baling hay. He taught me everything I know about cattle, ranching and real estate, which were the things he loved,” shared Lee Duggan III, Duggan’s son. “He never missed any of my numerous activities from little league baseball games through high school football games and so much more.”

Public Service

Duggan cared passionately for his Sugar Land community and thus served on the City Council from 1979 to 1986 followed by four two-year terms, plus an extension year as Mayor from 1987 to 1996. One of his proudest accomplishments was the acquisition of Hull Field Airport, providing the city with its own regional airport. Duggan also volunteered at Methodist Hospital, the Exchange Club of Sugar Land, the Fort Bend Subsidence District Board and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo where he was a lifetime member, in addition to a myriad of other charities.

“Dad’s life as a public servant had a lasting influence on our family and myself. Dad was not a politician, but a caring, humble man who loved his community and its citizens.  It was never all about him but about doing what was best for our city,” said Gamble. “Dad’s vision of what Sugar Land could become helped our city become the prosperous and enlightened community it is today – one in which all three of his children currently reside.”

“One of our dad’s lasting legacies was that we are all civic-minded and want to give back to our community. Dad was not your typical politician. He was in it for the people and to make Sugar Land better,” said Gray.


Mayor Lee Duggan proudly showcasing one of his 1951 classic cars. Collecting antique American cars was one of his many hobbies.

In addition to caring for his family and community, Duggan had a penchant for older American-made cars. His love affair with restoring Fords began in 1977 when he brought the pieces of a 1936 Ford Roadster home in the back of a flat-bed pickup. It took two years to build the car from the ground up, and he drove the sports car in the Great American Race from Los Angeles to New York.

Mayor Lee Duggan on his then new motorcycle with wife Peggy in the background joking around with him.

Duggan also played tennis and ran each morning at 5 am. “Hakeem Olajawon was dad’s neighbor and almost took him out a couple of times on his way to pray in the morning,” said Gray. “He told the mayor he needed to wear reflective gear, and my dad complied.  So, Hakeem is the one who got dad wearing reflective gear! His love for running kept him participating in the Turkey Trot in Sugar Land as one of the oldest participants.”

As much as Duggan loved his cars, tennis and running, he decided to buy himself a Harley at 80 years-old. He had a place in Vanderpool, Texas and would trailer up there and bike around. He also enjoyed going to the nearby Lone Star Motorcycle Museum Gray told Fort Bend Focus.


The Mayor Lee Duggan Endowed Opportunity Awards were given from the endowment of the Mayor Lee Duggan Scholarship Fund, which started when Duggan retired as mayor. Originally, there was a committee who awarded these scholarships to local Fort Bend residents. Those scholarships were eventually transferred to Texas A&M University (TAMU) for dispersal. There were approximately 15 scholarships awarded, however, prior to moving them over to TAMU.

“Once transferred to TAMU in 2004, two four-year scholarships were given to a Fort Bend County freshman. To date, 30 scholarships have been awarded, plus the original 15. That same year, the Mayor Lee Duggan 1949 Sul Ross Scholarship was created, and this provides a four-year scholarship to a member of the Corps of Cadets. That is an additional 15 scholarships awarded to date,” said Duggan III. “Unrelated to the Mayor Lee Duggan Scholarships, my parents had the Peggy and Lee Duggan, Jr. President Endowed Scholarships given in 2001 and 2003.”

Community Reaction

Once the community learned about Duggan’s passing, reactions and expressions of sympathy swiftly poured in from friends, families, former colleagues and employees, plus strangers near and far.

“It’s heartwarming to hear how our father impacted those with whom he interacted,” said Duggan III. “It’s the prayers, the kind words and gestures that are comforting our family.  The sentiments keep us going.”


The mayor with his three adult children, Debbie Gamble, Lee Duggan III and Pam Gray, at his 90th birthday celebration.

The patriarch also valued spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Grandchildren include Michael Gamble, Melanie Gamble Hausmann, David Gamble, Sara Duggan Callen, Haley Duggan Carpenter, Kelsey Gray and Tyler Gray, and 12 great-grandchildren. Juanita Lozano, a family friend and caregiver, as well as her son, were also a valued part of the family.

“Our children were all so blessed to know him,” said Gamble. “When our son Michael was 16, he and Dad began taking antique car trips together. One of the most memorable ones was a trip to Alaska in Dad’s 1936 Ford. I think it was more about the journey together than the sightseeing. They were gone for a month! They both came home with memories that will be treasured forever.”

“Our dad could not have been more proud and supportive of his grandchildren.  When great-grandchildren came along, he spent quality time with them as well,” said Gray.

Duggan was preceded in death by his father Lee M. Duggan, his mother Dorothy Furneaux Duggan and by his wife Peggy Boston Duggan.

“My father was the most honest, loving, generous man I’ve ever known. He lived a Christian life that was a powerful example to us all. He was the kind of man that I aspire to be for my family,” concluded Duggan III.

A Celebration of Life service will be held in the future when circumstances permit. In lieu of flowers, donations honoring Duggan can be made to East Fort Bend Human Needs Ministry, Child Advocates of Fort Bend or to the Mayor Lee Duggan Scholarship Fund at: Texas A&M Foundation, 401 George Bush Dr., College Station, TX 77840. Please include scholarship name on memo line of the check to designate funds.