Lee was born on June 13, 1858 in Hopkins County, Kentucky where he lived his entire life. His parents were Albert Elvie Hankins and Isabella Jane Goodloe and he was the 2nd of their four children. Albert died when Lee and his siblings were children. The exact date of Albert's death isn't known but Lee was probably 7 or 8 years old when he died.
On May 14, 1879, Lee married Samantha Angeline Petty at the Hopkins County Courthouse in Madisonville. They had seven children, all born in Hopkins County: Thomas Richard, Albert Elvie, Verda Waller, Aggie Lee, John Corum, William Perry and James Bailey. Three of their children died young - Aggie Lee when she was less than two years old and John and Perry when they were in their 20's. In addition to their children, Lee and Samantha also raised three of their grandchildren. Dick's first wife died in 1909 when their daughter, Garah, was about three years old. Their son, John, died in 1923 and his widow died two years later. Their children, Helen and Jewell were 12 and 5 at the time of their mother's death.
Lee and Samantha always lived in Hopkins County but moved several times. In 1880, they were living in Earlington. Between 1880 and 1891, they moved to Dalton. In March 1903, they returned to Earlington and were living there in September, 1904 when their daughter, Verda, got married. According to mentions in the Earlington Bee newspaper, they were living in Daniel Boone in June and July of 1905. They were listed in Magisterial District #3 in the 1910 census but it's unclear exactly where in Hopkins County that district was located. By 1920 they were living on McEuen Avenue in Earlington and before 1929 they had moved to West Broadway in Madisonville. The address was 704 at the time they lived there but the houses have been renumbered since then. As of 2005, the house number was 440.
Lee worked as a farmer but was also a General Baptist minister. He was the organizing minister for Frederick's Chapel Church in Webster County, Kentucky in 1904 and Union Grove Church in 1895. He was a minister for the 1st General Baptist Church of Tildon (in Webster County), Union Temple General Baptist Church (in Hopkins County) and Concord Church (in Hopkins County). He became the minister at Earlington General Baptist Church in April, 1903 according to mentions in the Earlington Bee but that paper had also noted in May 1897 that Lee was preaching there on the third Saturday night and Sunday of each month.
Lee died at the age of 70 on April 23, 1929 at his home in Madisonville. He and Samantha are both buried in Grapevine Cemetery in Hopkins County. Lee's great grandfather, Henry Lewis Goodloe, donated the land to start Grapevine Church and Cemetery in the mid 1850's so many of Lee's relatives from his mother's side of the family are also buried there.