George Lee went home to be with his Lord on October 28th, 2020, at the age of 96. He was the ninth of ten children born to Roger and Christine (‘Nina’ Farland) Lee in Marboe Township, Sargent County, North Dakota, on September 21, 1924, a few miles from where the Roger Lee family ultimately settled and farmed near Lake Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge. George lived most of his life in Marboe Township, was baptized and confirmed at Bergen Lutheran Church and attended the single-room Wood Lake schoolhouse through the eighth grade, after which he farmed full time. George took over the family farm after his father Roger passed away in 1949. Just as his family had given up on George ever settling down, he was set up on a blind date with Ilse Charlotte Winderlich on June 7, 1961 (Ilse’s birthday). Ilse had immigrated to the United States from Berlin, Germany, two years prior. She was instantly charmed by his “baby blue eyes,” and they were married three months later on George’s birthday (September 21, 1961).
George was highly regarded as a friend and kind individual, a physically fit and strong man who people turned to in a time of need. He was the king of one-liners, always providing a quip that encouraged and cheered people. He played a mean game of whist, and was known for his technical skills, with the ability to fix almost any farm machinery and even welding wood stoves and a meat saw for his shop. His other hobbies included golfing, bowling, and photography. In early days, he served as a local constable and played on the Veblen, South Dakota, baseball team in the 1940s. He later served on the Church Council at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, also in Veblen, and was a board member of the Farmer’s Union Oil Co-op in Lidgerwood, North Dakota, for 9 years.
In addition to farming, George was an avid outdoorsman and hunter, making an annual trek out to the high-altitude Rocky Mountains of Montana and Colorado to hunt deer and elk, leaving clean shaven only to return home fully bearded. He also hunted his own land in Sargent County for all types of game. He was a sharpshooter and had a particular passion and skill for outwitting many a fox, even once killing two with a single shot. As a teenager, he was thrown from his favorite horse when it suddenly collapsed and died underneath him while fox hunting.
In his later years, he and Ilse enjoyed the warmer temperatures and snowbird lifestyle by heading south to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, initially every winter but then residing there year-round from 2003 to 2011. They returned to their North Dakota roots in 2012.
He is survived by his wife Ilse of 59 years; four children: Horst (Sheila) of Lakeville, MN; Christine Harwood (Richard) of Chaska, MN; Robert of Lidgerwood, ND; and Connie of Chicago, IL; four grandchildren: Stephanie Poe (Jerrod), Robert Harwood (Doreen), David Harwood (Olivia), and George Harwood (Casey); 6 great-grandchildren; and his sister, Dorothy Knutson, of Fargo, ND. He is preceded in death by his parents, five brothers (Harold, Rollof, Tollef, Theodore, Rudolph), and three sisters (Norma, Florence, Ruth).
The family thanks the caretakers of Villa Maria in Fargo, North Dakota, for the wonderful care of their parents. In lieu of flowers, memorials or donations can be sent to Villa Maria or CHI Health at Home, both of Fargo.
A Celebration of Life service will be held on Thursday, June 10 at 11:00 at First United Methodist Church in Fargo, followed by a lunch.