Archie M. Greenlee was born in North Little Rock, Arkansas on July 30, 1919. When he was ten years old, his father took him to live with his Uncle in Des Moines, Iowa during the school year to enable him to attend integrated schools and receive a better education than that available in Arkansas’ segregated schools. He graduated from high school with honors and went on to the University of Iowa on a football scholarship; however, because of an injury suffered in his freshman year, he lost that scholarship.
He got a job working at night in a meat packing house in Des Moines, Iowa; married Donna Graham in 1939, and started a family. After serving in Word War II, he attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1948, and a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1950. By the time he was admitted to the practice his family consisted of a wife and six children; four of whom would follow his footsteps into law. He was admitted to the practice of law in Iowa in 1950; and while he remained there he started a newspaper for Blacks, the Iowa Sepia News; was president of the NAACP chapter in Des Moines; and was an early member of the National Bar Association.
Admitted to the Washington State Bar in 1958, he became involved in the community and served as a board member of the Seattle Urban League, the Rotary Club, the East Madison YMCA, and the East Madison Commercial Club. He continued to practice law until 1990 and up to his death in 1995; he talked of practicing on a limited basis because he missed providing assistance to his people.
As a founder of LMBA he provided pro bono representation to many members of the Black community making his law firm renowned. His progeny have perpetuated his legacy by following his footsteps into the practice of law.