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LeRoy Jerome Otterness July 15, 1938 - April 13, 2020

LeRoy “Lee” Jerome Otterness

After courageously battling an aggressive prostate cancer for six years, Lee passed away April 13th, 2020 with his family by his side.

Lee was born July 15, 1938 in Dell Rapids, South Dakota to Jens Melvin and Gladys Braa Otterness. He was raised on the family farm near Garretson, South Dakota. Lee was the middle of seven siblings: Christie (Cyril Wilfahrt – deceased), Conrad (Alta), Lorraine (Mac MacDonald – deceased), Kenneth (Terri), James (Elaine Raines), and Gloria (Bob Sanders). Lee was preceded in death by his parents and his younger brother, James.

After graduating from Garretson High school, Lee joined the South Dakota National Guard, where he served 6 months of active duty and five and a half years of reserve duty.

Lee met Nancy Haglund while working towards his pharmaceutical degree at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. She was in the nursing program. Best friends and inseparable since 1965, they would have celebrated their 55th anniversary in November 2020. After college life, they had two children: Liz Otterness (and her husband David Ballance) and Andrew (and his husband Italo Leveratto). In later years, Lee’s life was full, keeping up with his two grandchildren: Everett and Rose.

Lee began his pharmacy career working for Osco Drug in the Chicago area, and through a series of transfers and company buy-outs, he ended his 45-year Rx career with Albertsons in Boise, Idaho. Lee was a long-time member of the Capitol Pharmacy Association in Boise.

Being outdoors was Lee’s primary interest. Whether it be gardening and landscaping at home or camping and fishing in the mountains. After Lee got off work, the family would get in the camper and head for the beautiful Idaho outdoors as often as possible. At some point, the camper became a boat – with the initial thought of fishing. Instead, it became water skiing and dock-camping with a rare fishing trip. After the grandkids came along, Lee was always pulling them and their friends on tubes and other floating devices. How he loved to hear them scream as he spun vicious high-speed circles at Lucky Peak!

Winter months found Lee on the ski slopes with lifetime friends and his family – too many amazing friends to mention by name. In late February for many years, Lee skied with a group of close friends at Big Sky, Montana. His job was to have the coffee ready when the earlier risers were ready to hit the slopes. He and a couple of others were not “first” trackers! Lee continued skiing well into his late seventies when cancer reared its ugly head again.

Another of his favorite things was brewing beer, sometimes wine, sometimes mead. He dabbled with winemaking when we lived in Downers Grove, Illinois, but after moving to Boise it was all about making craft beer. He was an early member of Ida-Quaffer Homebrewers’ Association. His well-documented brew journal was filled with impeccable notes including temperature, humidity, time of day, how long this boiled or that roasted. David is looking forward to using Lee’s detailed notes to brew a batch; Lee’s IPA’s were always a hit with him. Lee created many award-winning brews. Because of his talent and connections in Ida-Quaffer’s, his orange blossom coriander beer was the inspiration for one of the first beers on tap at Table Rock Brewery in Boise. He also acquired pony kegs of microbrew for Liz and David’s wedding; something ahead of its time. The one-and-only batch of undrinkable beer brewed was the one he and Liz made together with unidentified hops from her yard. We called the batch ‘Dason’ and dumped it in the compost; it was truly that bad.

Lee loved to use his woodworking tools to make useful household things and furniture. His most enjoyable projects were with his son, Andrew. Early on, they built a three-story pet condo to care for many generations of rodents and other animals that found their way to our home. Later on, Lee, Andrew, and Italo built several pieces for their home – from a contemporary wine rack to a rustic headboard and tables.

After retiring, Lee and Nancy traveled the world with their special friends. One of his favorite trips was a river boat cruise down the Danube/Main Rivers. But the best place ever may have to be the Otterness family farm outside of Aurland, now a Norwegian Cultural Heritage site.

Lee fully restored a 1968 MG Midget that he acquired from his brother, James. After sitting idle for years in Tucson, it was so full of black widow spiders and other crawly things that he had to let it sit out in the cold Boise winter before he was able to start working on it. Bitten by the restoration bug, he then restored a 1974 MGB GT that came out of a pasture near Ontario, Oregon – it, too, was full of crawly things! And the one he was just starting, a 1971 MG Midget, sits waiting for attention from the family. Lee was pleased to learn that Andrew wants to keep the cars and learn how to maintain them – and maybe even finish the ‘71. Lee became a member of the Idaho British Car Club, participating in drives, car shows, and helping other members with their cars. Lee’s beautifully restored cars allowed him to win several 1st and 2nd places. The club brought him many close friendships. The Car Club also pulled off an amazing drive-by tribute to Lee at the family home just days prior to his passing – thirty classic British cars full of his close friends waving and sending their love from a socially distanced cul-de-sac. This was most certainly a final farewell that sent Lee off with a giant smile.

The family wants to thank the St. Luke’s Cancer Institute’s incredible staff – in particular the doctors and nurses that always had his best interests at heart. We also want to call out our gratitude for St. Luke’s Hospice – especially the superb, compassionate care from Deanna; she took amazing care of all of us.

In lieu of flowers, if you wish, feel free to donate to South Dakota State University’s College of Pharmacy in LeRoy’s name. (https://www.sdstatefoundation.org/give-now)

A celebration of Lee’s life will be held at a future date when hugs and kisses are back in style.

Arrangements are under the direction of Bowman Funeral Parlor of Garden City.

Condolences(20)

  1. REPLY
    Dave and Annette Frost says

    Dear Nancy,
    We are so sorry for your loss. We know you will miss him, but he is in a better place, without pain and suffering.
    Lee was just a sweet gentleman. We will miss he smile and kind words.
    God Bless You and your family!

    • REPLY
      Nancy and Family says

      Dear Annette and Dave
      Thank you for your kind words of condolence

  2. REPLY
    Leslie Munson says

    I only knew Lee from his visits to the dental office. He was a lovely man. I was so glad to read his obituary and discover what a truly full and interesting life he had. My condolences to his family.

    • REPLY
      Nancy and family says

      Leslie, thank you for remembering Lee and your kind words.

  3. REPLY
    Michael Winner says

    Dear Nancy,

    Lee was a great friend and coworker. We had a lot of fun in the pharmacy at Maxx (later Max) and at Albertsons. We would always talk about different projects, cars, guns and whatever.

    I saw your cars out at The Village last fall and combed that place trying to find you two. I wish I would have ran into you there. I hope the best for your family and if you need anything don’t hesitate to call.

    Michael

    • REPLY
      Nancy and famiy says

      Michael, thank you for your kind words. Lee always enjoyed visiting with you. Sorry we missed you at the Village last September – our 2 cars were there.

  4. REPLY
    A. Lamar and Dixie H. Robinson says

    LOur deepest sympathy to Nancy and family on the loss of your loved one ‘Lee’. Lee, was one of the nicest and personable person we ever knew. It was always a pleasure to see him and talk with him. God Bless all of you at this very sad time. May he rest in peace always and forever in the kingdom of heaven.

    • REPLY
      Nancy and Family says

      Dixie and Lamar, thank you for your kind words. Lee too always enjoyed visiting with you. Stay well

    • REPLY
      Nancy says

      Thank you Dixie and Lamar

  5. REPLY
    Sandrice “Sandy” Zaccardi says

    My dear Nancy
    Oh how my heart breaks for you and your family, I am so sorry for your huge loss
    Lee was so special to me and Bill also, I knew Lee back in our Buttery/Osco days and had such respect for him as a coworker and seeing him at Albertsons was always a joy. On the fun side seeing you both at British car club was so inspiring as you could see the love between you two and it was noticeable you were like best friends as well as a beautiful couple.
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute on his life. May God grant you peace and hold your memories in your heart ❤️
    Love, Sandy and Bill Starkey

  6. REPLY
    Dave Schwarz says

    We our so sorry to hear of Lee’s passing. He was such a wonderful friend to all. Please take comfort in knowing that so many people considered Lee to be their friend.

    Dave and Marie

    • REPLY
      Nancy and Family says

      Marie and Dave, thank you for your kind words. Lee always enjoyed Marie’s cooking and stories. Stay well

    • REPLY
      Nancy says

      Thank you Marie and Dave

  7. REPLY
    Michelle Rolfe says

    Nancy and Family,
    Lee will truly be missed. I always enjoyed seeing him at IBCC coffees and events. May his memories fill your heart.
    Michelle

  8. REPLY
    Marilyn Usselman says

    Dear Nancy,
    I am so sad you lost your one and only, Lee. May you find Peace and Healing.

    • REPLY
      Nancy says

      Thank you Marilyn.

  9. REPLY
    Rupert Pulido says

    Dear Nancy,

    I’m so sorry to hear about Lee’s passing. I was very fond of Lee. I was a recent graduate from pharmacy school when Lee and I started working together, and I could always count on him and his experience to guide me. He never made me feel like a nuisance for asking so many questions. He was my version of a pharmacy dad. The girls and I loved working with him.

    Please let me know if there’s anything I can do. I’m sorry for your family’s loss.

    • REPLY
      Nancy says

      Thank you Rupert, Lee always enjoyed working with you.

  10. REPLY
    Nancy Otterness says

    Dear Rupert, thank you for your kind words. Lee always enjoyed working with you. Take care and stay safe. Nancy

  11. REPLY
    Marie Baldner says

    Nancy, I was so sorry to hear of Lee’s struggle with cancer and his passing. That was a wonderful story of his life, which I’m happy you published for all of us to read. I’m so glad to hear of the British Car Club drive-by. I wish I could have seen that! How nice that he could visit the ancestral places in Norway. H Marie (Russell) Baldner, CLU, Boise

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