T.J. Lee Elementary School opened in March of 1959 with twelve rooms, the lunch room, and kitchen. The kitchen was the first school lunchroom to be equipped electrically. The school is located in a part of the Old Elm School District annexed by the Irving ISD. The school was named after an American Airlines captain, Thomas Jasper (Jap) Lee. He was born in Taylor, Texas, on November 6, 1899 and moved to this area when he was three years old. Captain Lee married Miss Regina Strauss from New Jersey, and they had one daughter named Barbara. Captain Lee learned to fly at Dallas Love Field in 1921 and his love of flying became a lifetime commitment.
At the dedication ceremony, Mrs. Regina Lee presented the school with a photograph of her late husband and a propeller from one of the first planes he flew. It is believed that the name chosen for the school is the first time an airline pilot has been so honored.