“The memorial commemorates local hero Tom Lee who, in 1925 despite his inability to swim, saved thirty-two people from drowning in the Mississippi River from a capsized steamer. Tom Lee witnessed the M.E. Norman capsize in the swift current about 15 miles downriver from Memphis at Cow Island Bend. Although he could not swim, he rescued 32 people with five trips to shore. Lee acted quickly, calmly and with no regard for his own safety, continuing to search after night fell. Because of his efforts, only 23 people died."
"To honor the hero, the Memphis Engineers Club raised enough money to purchase a house for Lee and his wife. Tom Lee died of cancer on April 1, 1952 at John Gaston Hospital. Two years after his death, the park along the Memphis Riverfront was named in his honor and a granite obelisk marker was erected. In October 2006, a new bronze sculpture was erected in the park to commemorate the event and to honor the civil hero. The sculpture statue depicts Tom Lee rescuing a survivor in the Mississippi River.” By Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia on THE HISTORICAL MARKER DATABASE