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Russell Allen Lee, 91

Russell Allen Lee, age 91, formerly of Howard Lake, died Friday, Sept. 30, 2011, at Brookridge Assisted Living in Cokato. 

Russ was born May 24, 1920, on the family farm in Aneta, ND.

After high school, he attended North Dakota State College (now Valley City State University), achieving a degree in education; and the University of Minnesota, where he obtained a degree in mortuary science, followed by a master’s degree in education.

Russ served overseas for 36 consecutive months during World War II, and was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during the Battle of Monte Cassino, Italy.

Russ married Joyce Moline Aug. 14, 1948.  They moved to Lisbon, ND, where they owned their first funeral home and furniture store. 

Due to a bout with cancer in 1954, they were forced to sell their business.  Russell recovered from the cancer, and spent a few years in various professions including owning and operating a hardware store in Fairfax, MN, and teaching high school in Michigan and Iowa.

In 1960,  he purchased the funeral home and furniture store in Howard Lake, where Russell and Joyce made their home for the rest of their lives.  Other Howard Lake business ventures in which Russ was involved were income tax preparation, real estate sales, and property renovation and rental.

Russ was also the first director of the Meeker-Wright Community Action Council, Inc. program.

While in Howard Lake, Russ was very involved in the community.  He was instrumental in developing the nursing home and the senior citizen center.  He also initiated the serving of coffee and donuts following the Memorial Day ceremony at the cemetery. 

Russ served on the school board, was a member of the Howard Lake Business Association, and was a member of the boards of directors of Howard Lake Development, and St Mary’s Hospital in Winsted. 

Russ was also a long-time member of Walker United Methodist Church in Howard Lake.

Upon retirement, Russ and Joyce enjoyed travelling and wintering in Arizona, and spending time with their two grandsons.

Russ was preceded in death by his parents, Louis and Ruth Lee; stepfather Andrew Hillesland; a brother, Luverne Lee; and a sister, Lois Kolstoe. 

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Joyce Lee; daughter Patricia Lee; and son Kent and his wife, Connie, and their two sons, Chris and Jon Lee; as well as many friends and other relatives.

A truly wonderful husband, father, and grandfather, Russ was a friend and a mentor. He was smart, had a sensitive heart, was always willing to help someone in trouble, and had a wonderful sense of adventure and a spontaneous streak of fun.  One of his favorite phrases was “Dare to Do.”

Russ will be forever remembered for his humor, generosity, and love; and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Funeral services took place Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. at the Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home of Howard Lake, followed by interment at the Howard Lake City Cemetery.

Visitation was Monday, Oct. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home, and continued Tuesday for one hour prior to the funeral services.

The Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home of Howard Lake handled the arrangements.