John Milton Lee was born in Danville, Indiana on September 7, 1890. He graduated from Danville High School in 1910 and entered Indiana University in the fall of that year. There he completed three years of pre-medical study. From the beginning, Lee was an active participant in the founding of Kappa Alpha Nu. In 1915, he became a student at Temple University but he was compelled to leave school because of a death in the family. He enlisted in the 349th field artillery in March of 1918 and served overseas as a First Class Sergeant and Gunner. His was the first battery of negro artillerymen to open fire on an enemy. Vocationally, he was engaged in several enterprises. He conducted a successful catering business in Philadelphia. He organized and served as Vice-President and Secretary of the Mutual Emergency Union and he was also a member of the Board of Managers of the Columbia Community Branch of the YMCA.