He was born on the family homestead west of Donalda, Alberta to William Edward Lee and Lottie Gertrude (Moats) Lee.

Francis was predeceased by his father William (Ed) Lee, mother Lottie Gertrude (Moats) Lee, wife Marion Elizabeth Thurston (June 6, 2003), sisters and brothers-in-law Alice and Harry Conibear, Lottie and Mark Hanson, Florence and Todd Poole, brothers Wilbur and Frank, brother-in law John Heath, brothers-and-sisters-in-law Perry and Beryl Thurston, Victor and Marie Thurston, Bill Karr, Bob Pietila, son-in-law James Mailer, nieces and nephews Marilyn Conibear, Dennis Poole, Wade Morton, Barry Karr, Dale Karr and Laurie Ruppe, and grandnephew Jordan Kreider.

He is survived by his sister Marjorie Heath of England, sisters-in-law Florence Morton of Strathmore and Louise Pietila of Oyen, twelve children: Bill of Edmonton, Betty (Reg) Kowatch of Gander, NL, Ellen (James Johnston) of Ottawa, Ken (Sandra Burnstad) of Sherwood Park, Don of Calgary, Laura of Edmonton, Susan Morgenstern of Edmonton, Jerry (Lill Roth) of Donalda, Lorna (Dale Brackenbury) of Edmonton, Sandra Lee-Mailer of Stettler, Linda of Calgary, and John (Oksana Sadchenko) of Edmonton, and daughter-in-law Sue Patterson of Donalda. Survived by twenty grandchildren: Penny (Bill) Chant, Karen Kowatch, Catherine Lee-Johnston, Sarah Lee-Johnston, Darren (Luella) Lee, Rachelle (Tim) Kerber, Jody (Jonathan) Grimm, Ben (Tara) Lee, Jennifer Lee (Alex Maitland), Shannon Morgenstern, Jordan Morgenstern, Daniel Lee, Jessica Lee, Niklas Lee, Brenda Mailer, Sheree Mailer, Megan Kloepfer, Sam Kloepfer, Matthew Lee, Danitsa Vilotiyevich and numerous nieces and nephews.

Survived by eleven great-grandchildren: Dylan Chant, Jonathon Chant, Shelby Chant, Ethan Kowatch, Thomas Lee, Logan Lee, Ty Kerber, Ashlyn Kerber, Brooks Grimm, Marla Lee and Troy Mailer.

As a child Francis walked across the fields to Buena Vista School with his sisters and brother. He was a teenager during the Great Depression and this experience made a lasting impression on him.

He met Marion Thurston when she was a teacher at Buena Vista. They were married July 22, 1946 at her parents’ home in Benton Station, Alberta, and came to live on the Ed Heater place, a mile and a half south of where he grew up. Here they raised twelve children and created a successful mixed farm which is still in the family with Jerry and Lill and family.

His passions were his family and the farm. When each child was old enough, she or he was expected to help with farm work and chores. We milked cows, fed pigs, picked roots from freshly broken fields, picked endless rocks (he was well known by his neighbours for his big rock piles) and helped with haying in summer and with harvest in the fall after school.

Though he had a modest education himself (grade nine), he loved to read both fiction and non-fiction. He always encouraged us to do our best in school and always supported us with whatever post-secondary education we chose for ourselves. He also enjoyed discussing ideas, and while “telling” was more his thing, he could be quite open at times to other ideas – even about politics and religion. Talks with him about science and religion over the years demonstrated that he was more flexible than he sometimes seemed. He was also very upset when he saw evidence of racism or dishonesty, and although he certainly had his foibles, he was a very moral and genuine person. He also loved children and animals, both domestic and wild, and really appreciated nature.

Religion was very important to Francis. Attending the United Church services held regularly in neighbours’ homes in the Skybo-Buena Vista area, was an important family tradition for many years. Beginning in about 1960, Francis and Marion and their growing family attended the Donalda United Church services and Sunday school. Eventually though, he came to feel that the United Church was too liberal. In 1972 Francis and Marion listened to the Gospel message shared by two lady ministers. It answered questions they had about the Bible and fed their souls and they embraced it. Francis enjoyed the home fellowship meetings and mid-week bible studies as long as he was able.

We would like to make special mention of the staff and patients of Heritage House where he spent his last years. Their kindness and loving support is most appreciated by his family.

Francis Lee died peacefully in his sleep on March 5, 2012 at the age of 94, with family at his side.

Funeral services were held at the Donalda Community Hall, Donalda, Alberta with Jack Reddekopp and Jean Jefferson officiating. Pianist Patti Howell played for the hymns “Softly and Tenderly,” “In Jesus Hands” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.” Mr. Jim Conibear gave the tribute. Francis was laid to rest at Donalda Cemetery with his grandchildren: Ben Lee, Catherine Lee-Johnston, Sarah Lee-Johnston, Jordan Morgenstern, Daniel Lee, Niklas Lee, Meg Kleopfer and Sam Kleopfer as Pallbearers. All of his grandchildren formed an honor guard as he was carried and placed next to his loving wife Marion. Graveside service was led by Lorne Moore.

Family and friends gathered at the Donalda Hall for a time of fellowship and a luncheon by Teresa’s Catering.

Condolences may be sent to the family at Memorial donations may be made to SHSF – Heritage House or a charity of your own choosing.


entrusted with the care and arrangements. 403-742-3422

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