We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Haven Of Rest Gig Harbor
Stanley Joseph Lee was born October 9, 1940 in Faribault, Minnesota, to parents Bernice Nathalie Rumberg (1911-1991) and Ole Martinius Lee (1901-1978). He passed away peacefully on June 27, 2022, in Gig Harbor, Washington, due to complications from mesothelioma.
Stan shared his birthday with John Lennon, same day and same year, as he liked to let people know. He was the oldest of three brothers, Chuck (b. Dec 19, 1941 d. Dec 14, 2019) and David (b. Aug 7, 1945). They grew up in a small house in Kenyon, Minnesota, where their dad worked as a blacksmith and their mom was a cook at the Blue Bird Café.
He was a devoted son and worked to support his mom - he even installed a wood heater in their unheated house when he was a teenager. He took his responsibilities seriously, even as he often played the class clown. Recently he was asked what made him proudest growing up and – after joking about the time he saved the bus load of kids from going into the burning building – he said, “Bringing home the string of bullhead fish I caught.” His early jobs were at the canning factory in Kenyon, pitching peas and corn, learning welding from his dad, and cutting grain in Montana in the summer. During high school, Stan joined the military Reserves. Though he struggled with dyslexia throughout school, he recently learned that his high school physics teacher said Stan was the smartest student he’d ever had.
Following high school Stan earned a bachelor’s degree from Mankato State University, where he studied math, physics and accounting. After graduating, he went into active service in the U.S. Navy. After serving in the Navy, he returned to Mankato State to earn a Master’s Degree in Mathematics. (Late in life he joked about using his Master’s in Mathematics as a pick-up line.)
While earning his Master’s he met and married Carol Loe in 1968. While the marriage didn’t work out, they did have two lovely daughters, Tina and Becka. He was a sweet, patient, tender, and fiercely protective father.
After completing his Master’s, he worked for the US Postal Service and then for Burlington Northern Railroad. In 1977 he moved to Renton, WA, to be closer to his parents, brothers and the extended family that had moved there before him. He joined Boeing as a computer analyst and would work for them in various roles and groups until he retired in 2003.
Stan and his brother Chuck lived together and began building a 42-foot trimaran sailboat together. To create their work space, they bought a little house in Renton, jacked it up off its foundation and built a huge open-air shed off the back. Tina and Becka provided cheap child labor on the boat, charged with sanding the fiberglass hull with sulfur ‘fart’ blocks. Becka and Tina were less than excited about this interesting smell. Chuck and Stan used to say their sailboat was going to be named Breaking Wind, just to tease their mom. The daughters are not sure that it was just a joke.
On August 2,1986, Stan married Shirley Harris Johnson and increased his number of daughters to four with Karlene and Elena. Stan and Shirley’s early years were full of outdoor adventures. They backpacked, hiked, skied,sailed, and climbed Mt. Adams and Mt. Baker. They shared 28 years together supporting each other through the ups and downs of career, health, parenting, traveling, exploring spirituality, volunteerism, and the arts. Over time, Karlene, Elena, Tina, and Becka joined forces as the 4Ds. Together with Stan and Shirl, the 4Ds and their families built wonderful traditions that carry on.
Stan was a very involved member of the Solar Club of Tacoma and enjoyed electric cars and new green technology, including his Tesla. Gary Zukav’s book, Seat of the Soul, was influential in his spiritual life, as was the work of Buckminster Fuller. He was a lover of both science and science fiction and shared his love of it with children and grandchildren. He collected Japanese art, regularly attended the local theater, and visited many spiritual art sites all over the world. For many years, he volunteered on the Board of Harmony Hill Retreat Center, and after joining CSL Tacoma, he joined their board as well, and was active on it until the end of his life.
The daughters grew up and married and had kids of their own. Stan loved his daughters, his daughter’s partners, and his grandkids. He was a caring and attentive elder to all his grandchildren, and his care and interest extended out. He fostered the interests of others, was a great listener, and was even better at making people laugh. He was soft-spoken but made a big impact on those around him.
Following Shirley’s passing in 2014, a friendship and a connection with Linda Reidt transformed into a deep partnership. They found each other through spiritual exploration and built a community of good friends and family together, traveling and sharing time through their 7 years. At the end of Stan’s struggle with mesothelioma, Linda was a caregiver to him, attending to his physical, emotional, and spiritual needs – and many times even acting as his personal secretary. With Linda’s help, Stan was able to live his values to the end – and responsibly tie up all matters of his heart and estate by the time of his death.
Stan was preceded in death by Shirley, his parents, and brother Chuck. He is survived by his partner, Linda Reidt; his four daughters and their partners, Karlene Johnson and John Spence, Elena Waite and Ron Wright, Tina Laurel Lee and Josh Kent, and Becka Lynn Lee and Greg Bass; his seven grandchildren, Alex Schmidt, Henry Lee Kent, Nathalie Lee Kent, Eli Waite, Charlotte Lee Bass, Phia Waite, and Teddy Lee Bass; his youngest brother, David Lee; and his sister-in-law, Sandee Lee.
A celebration of Stan’s life will be held on July 9, 2022, at 10:00 am at Center for Spiritual Living, 206 North J Street, in Tacoma. All who attend are invited to bring a Stan joke or story to share. Please wear a mask. Immediately following the service, there will be a coffee and tea reception.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to World Wildlife Fund (worldwildlife.org), Harmony Hill Retreat Center (harmonyhill.org), or Center for Spiritual Living Tacoma (csltacoma.org).
Stan Lee will be missed greatly, but we know that he will be with us forever in our hearts. May his memory be for a blessing.