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Warren Lee


1925 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
December 20, 1925 ~ January 29, 2014
Our beloved father, husband, grand- & great-grandfather, son and friend Warren L. Lee took his last flight Home on January 29, 2014.
Born on December 20, 1925 in Minot, ND to Leonard and Viola Lee, he grew up with sister Joan (Jerry) Tuttle (Albuquerque, NM) and brothers Robert (Margaret) Lee (Fletcher, NC) and Gary Lee (Salt Lake City, UT). The Lee family moved to Utah in 1939. Upon graduating from West High School ROTC in Salt Lake City, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as an Aviation Machinist Mate. In 1946, as the War ended, he returned to Salt Lake City, married RoJean Finley (now deceased) in 1949, and began a career in civil aviation. Warren and RoJean had four children: David Warren died a few days after birth; Randal Alan Martin (wife Becky London and grandson Benjamin Lee) of New York City, NY; Donna RoJean Stimak (husband Mike) of Idaho Falls, ID; and Traci Ann Robertson (granddaughters Emma Downs and Rebecca Robertson) of Arizona. Warren and RoJean divorced in 1961 and Warren remarried Tula Mastoris in May 1963 whose children, Nick Young (wife Betsy Watson and granddaughters Charlene Lyman, Tina Greenhalgh and Michelle Young) of Salt Lake City, Utah and Stephanie Taylor (husband Lamar) of Albany, Oregon, he loved as his own.
Warren was a man of immeasurable talents and interests. He was a remarkable writer and historian, penning original poems and personally retracing the steps of Lewis and Clark. He was an avid photographer and videographer, especially devoted to documenting his family's experiences. He loved boating, snow skiing and water skiing; but even more, he loved teaching the many children who considered him their "other dad" to water ski, sail, build a campfire, tie a knot, or catch their first fish. He was a teacher and a mentor. It is the many stories around the Bear Lake campfire that are indelibly carved into our hearts. There, under the chaste night sky, as we listened to the Lake's waves meet the sand, he would quietly share his faith, his life lessons, and his amazing adventures. We all loved the stories, yes, but we carry the lessons of the underlying parable with us to this day. Learn, feel, change, grow, live and love. "..Only a person who risks is free.." ...."Leave a Trail!" he taught us. "To thine own self be true," he would quote, and then add that the true measure of a person was the lives he touches. Warren was a multi-faceted man, yet simple. He just gave. To everyone. Without condition or compromise.
Those who knew him would agree he had 4 passions: his faith in God; his devotion to family and dear friends; his passion for flight; and his commitment to preserving his beloved Bear Lake for future generations.
Warren was born with a passion for taking wing, being one with the sky. At age 5, he asked Santa for a "little airplane with a window, three wheels and three propellers" (a Ford Trimotor). His 1st flight, at age 8, was in a vintage Curtis Robin chartered by his Grandfather Groth. By age 9, after attending his first air show, he announced that he was going to be a pilot. He saved every penny and began flight lessons at age 12. His eyes have been to the sky ever since. After acquiring a commercial license and instrument rating, his flying was gradually relegated to a hobby as he pursued a career in air traffic control. Beginning in the San Francisco tower in 1949, and serving thereafter at multiple control towers as well as FAA headquarters, he returned to Salt Lake City, UT where he became Chief of the SLC Tower until retiring in 1984. Following retirement, Warren devoted his boundless energies and wisdom to the preservation of Bear Lake and sharing his treasured "Middle Place" with family and friends. He worked with Merlin Olsen to help create Bear Lake Watch, an organization dedicated to this beautiful, natural, pristine lake's preservation. He worked tirelessly and passionately to assure that this "marvel of creation" would remain unblemished.
He loved Bear Lake and the little slice of "Shangri-Lee" that he and Tula created on the west shore. Each stone moved by hand; every seed planted consistent with the future vision of the place he called his "Listening Spring, the Middle of My World". If there was a spare moment, he would pilot his Navion from Salt Lake to the pastures that bordered the lake, avoiding barbed wire fences and telephone wires to land beyond the cattle. The two of them labored in love to build a sanctuary, not for themselves, but for their beloved family and friends. He called it his legacy, and he was right. But, his legacies reach beyond Bear Lake.
He was a man committed to "making memories". He was happiest when surrounded by his family and friends. He nurtured dear friendships that lasted a lifetime. He gave of himself to everyone. His lust for life, sense of humor, adventurous spirit, and noble character were inescapable magnets that drew anyone who met him.
And, Warren was a man of deep faith. He was baptized as an infant into the Lutheran faith and confirmed at age 12. It was the church of his immigrant forefathers from Norway and Germany. In the years following his retirement, he spoke often that, he had lived a very full and blessed life, but knew something was missing. He said that he lived with deep regret that he had spent his life being "so busy that there was little time for God". In 1997, he went on a spiritual journey that he named his "Great Hurrah". It was a quest for heart and soul. The trip ended with a simple prayer for God's forgiveness and help to guide the balance of his life. He and Tula found the fellowship they were seeking in Calvary Chapel and began a dedicated daily Bible study together. On August 27th, 2006, Warren chose to be baptized again, this time as a true believer who had made a conscious choice to put God 1st in his life. On that day, he wrote in his family Bible "(In my youth) I became like a bottle in the smoke. Yet, ...I could not forget your teachings and statutes (Psalms 119:83)....and now, ...my heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end (Psalms 119:112).....For this God is our God forever and ever. He will be our guide even unto death (Psalms 48:14)."
The song says "how do you catch a cloud and pin it down?" Well, how do you sum up the life of a man like Warren Lee in a column?
One doesn't.
You just had to know him.
Funeral services for Warren will be conducted at 10 a.m. Friday, February 7, 2014, in the Neil O'Donnell Mortuary Chapel, 372 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City, Utah.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations to The Good Samaritan Program, 347 E. So. Temple, SLC, UT 84103.
Condolences may be sent to the family at mortuary123@gmail.com.
Published in Salt Lake Tribune on Feb. 2, 2014
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