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Memorial service set for Kaffeinate coffee shop owner killed in Durham explosion

Emergency radio traffic sketches out sequence of events in Durham explosion

Fire and police radio traffic give the sequence of events leading up to the gas explosion at 115 N. Duke St. in Durham, NC on April 10, 2019.
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Fire and police radio traffic give the sequence of events leading up to the gas explosion at 115 N. Duke St. in Durham, NC on April 10, 2019.

The community is invited to the memorial service for Kaffeinate coffee shop owner Kong Lee, who was killed in a gas explosion nearly three weeks ago.

Diana and Raymond Lee, Lee’s children, announced funeral arrangements for their father Tuesday afternoon on Kaffeinate’s social media accounts. Visitation for Lee will be held Tuesday, May 7, from 4 to 7 p.m. at New Horizon Church in Durham. The funeral will be held Wednesday, May 9, at 11 a.m. at the church. The New Horizon Church is located at 100 Horizon Place in Durham.

“The staff at Kaffeinate used to joke that all our dad wanted was to be everyone’s dad,” the announcement read. “The best part of all of this has been getting to see all the people who felt our dad’s love and have now come to love us in his honor.”

Lee was inside the family’s North Duke Street coffee shop on the morning of April 10, when gas from a leaking pipe exploded, destroying Kaffeinate and damaging neighboring buildings. Lee was killed that day, and 25 others were injured.

PSNC utility worker Jay Rambeaut was seriously injured in the blast and died Thursday, April 25. His funeral was Tuesday, April 30, in Durham. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for the Rambeaut family at gofundme.com/help-the-rambeaut-family.

Meanwhile, the community has rallied around Lee’s children, remembering Kong Lee’s kindness at the popular coffee shop. Lee’s children said their father loved the shop and helping others.

“He had the biggest, purest heart out of anyone we know,” they wrote. “He always wanted a cafe because he loved to serve people, and we were finally able to build him one. He loved being able to bring people something that would make them smile.”

Multiple fundraising campaigns were set up for the Lee family, including one that has collected more than $150,000 in donations.

Diana and Raymond have said they plan to eventually reopen Kaffeinate.

The Lee family has retained Edwards Kirby law firm, a publicist for the public injury law firm announced last week, according to a previous News & Observer report. The family has not filed a lawsuit. The firm was founded by John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator who ran for president twice.

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