Donald Lewis Lee, 77, of Bozeman, passed away on Jan. 1, 2010, due to complications from Alzheimer's disease.
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In 1949 he met his wife-to-be Barbara Myers. They went steady for six years before marrying in 1955 at First Lutheran Church, Bozeman. Dec. 18, 2009, marked the 54th year of their marriage. Barbara lovingly cared for Don during his long and difficult illness with Alzheimer's.
Don was born in 1932 to Gilbert and Glory Lee in Choteau. The family moved to Bozeman in 1942. Don graduated from Gallatin County High School in 1951 and lettered as a center on the football team. He attended Montana State University from 1951 to 1956. He earned a B.S. in Business Administration and attended postgraduate, School of Law 1956 to 1957, at The University of Montana.
For approximately 20 years Don was administrator of the (downtown) Bozeman Deaconess Hospital and during that time also served as executive director of Hillcrest Retirement Home. During those years he oversaw many of the upgrades and expansion of equipment, facilities and services promoting the welfare of both institutions and the community. He developed many wonderful working relationships with colleagues and staff of Bozeman Deaconess. He resigned his position at the hospital to start a private company from which he retired in 1989.
Don served as director of the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce in 1965 and as vice president in 1966. He served six years in the Montana National Guard 163rd armored cavalry regiment as a master sergeant and unit administrator during 1950 to 1956. In addition, Don held leadership roles in other professional and philanthropic associations and organizations.
His interests included activities with family and friends, such as hunting, fly fishing, camping, horse pack trips, hiking and golf. He was a member of Cottonwood Hills Golf Club where he carded an ace on the 178-yard number 8 hole with a 5 wood for the shot. He cherished the friendships of those with whom he regularly golfed, in particular Harold Fryslie, Wally Diteman, Roy Cattrell, Chris Small and Donovan Keil. Don also enjoyed golfing with his long-time friend and associate, Harold Goble. Having played since his youth, Don became a consummate pool player.
A talented artist, Don produced works in pastel, oil, charcoal and ink. He enjoyed collecting the artwork of others. An avid reader, his favorite poem was "If" by Rudyard Kipling as it conveyed ideals which one could aspire to. Among his favorite books were "The Lord of the Rings Trilogy" and books by author James A. Michener. Two of his favorite movies were the "Wizard of Oz" and "Dr. Zhivago."
Don was an imaginative storyteller and his stories were enjoyed around many a campfire. He had a brilliant sense of humor. For those who knew him, Don was an intellectually engaging personality with a quick wit. He will be missed for this as well as his acts of kindness, honesty and fortitude in the face of adversity. Like the poem "If," he set an example, an ideal that one could live by. Don loved Montana, the Gallatin Valley and Bozeman, crediting its beauty and charm to God, in whom he had great faith.
Preceding him in death were his mother and father; his sisters, Gilberta (Joe) Daly, Amy (DuPont) Rindy; and one nephew, Don Daly.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and his four children: daughters, Rebecca (Darrel) Behrent and Katherine (Tom) Dixon, and sons, Harlan Lee and Steven (Toni) Lee; grandsons, Gary (Andrea) Behrent, Greg (Shelby) Behrent, and Aaron Dixon; great-grandsons, Gavin Lee Behrent and Brody Tripp Behrent. He is also survived by his two good friends, brothers-in-law, Lloyd (Laura) Myers of Great Falls and George (Karen) Myers of Billings; as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
In accordance with Don's wishes, a private service will be held.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service; www.dokkennelson.com.
Should friends desire, memorials may be made to Department of Development, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St. S.W., Rochester, MN 55905 for Alzheimer's research.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Jan. 5, 2010