Kenneth N. "Ken" Lee, 81, Minot, and formerly of New Rockford, died Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, in a Minot hospital.
Ken was born Sept. 18, 1931, at Emmet, the son of Harold and Emma (Iverson) Lee. He was raised and educated at Fillmore, and moved with his family to Maddock, where he graduated from high school in 1949. During his high school years, he was an avid basketball player. He enlisted in the Navy on Feb. 12, 1952, and was honorably discharged in 1956.
Ken was united in marriage to Sonja Schmid on July 16, 1955, at Red Lake Falls, Minn. Following their marriage, they lived at New Rockford from 1956 to 1975. He became employed with the Burlington-Northern Railroad in 1949 and continued with the company as a dispatcher until his retirement in 1995. In 1984, they moved to New Brighton, Minn., and also lived for a short time in Fort Worth, Texas. He and Sonja also owned and operated the Elsie Shop, a ladies dress shop in New Rockford, from 1959 until the business was sold in 1962.
Ken was a member of Bethany Lutheran Church, Minot, and a former member of the First Lutheran Church of New Rockford, where he served on the Church Council. He also served as a New Rockford City Commissioner and was a member of the VFW, American Legion, National Association of Retired and Veteran Railway Employees, American Train Dispatchers Association, Elks Lodge and Eagles Aerie. He was the local chairman and member of the Order of Railroad Telegraphers Dispatch Union.
Ken enjoyed hunting, fishing, watching sporting events and the stock market activities, as well as traveling.
He fought a long and courageous battle with cancer. Throughout his many hospital stays, he never gave up or complained. Many times he was known to say, "I'm OK," which was one of his final statements to his family. Ken's love of his life was his wife, family and grandchildren.
His loving family includes: wife of 57 years, Sonja; children, Jaime (James) Swanson, St. Augustine, Fla., Janet (Gordon) Shea, Minot, Jason (Pamela) Lee, Maddock, and Jane Smith (Jim Schultz), Minot; grandchildren, Chris and Alex Swanson, Marnie Shea and her fiance Kris Nielsen, Lexie Shea, Sydnie and Payton Smith, Kenadi, Kerringten and Kaden Lee; great-grandchild, Harper Swanson; sisters, Fern Madsen, Sun City, Ariz., and Lois (David) Rice, Sun City, Ariz.; and several nieces and nephews.
Ken was preceded in death by his parents.
Funeral service: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, at 11 a.m., in Bethany Lutheran Church, Minot.
Interment: North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, south of Mandan.
Visitation: Today, Dec. 4, from 2 to 7 p.m., in Thomas Family Funeral Home, Minot.
Memorials: In lieu of flowers or plants, the family prefers memorials to Bethany Lutheran Church, Minot.
Those wanting to sign the online memorial register or share memories and condolences are invited to use the expressions of sympathy section at (www.thomasfamilyfuneralhome.com).