Henry Gee came to American as a teenager and lived with his grandparents in Louisiana. He later moved to Mississippi but was not permitted to attend school with white students. As a result, Henry came to Houston to secure his education. Meanwhile, he worked in Harry Gee Sr.'s restaurant. After high school, he became a US merchant marine and then entered the Navy. After his military service, Henry attended UT Austin on a GI bill. Upon graduation, he was hired by the Texas Highway Department. He later started the first Chinese school in Houston, called the Institute of Chinese Culture.