Herbert Lee, 91, La Crosse, Wis.

Published 10:55 am Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Herbert H. Lee, a longtime La Crosse, Wis., businessman, died Thursday, April 4, 2013, at the age of 91. Herb was born on Feb. 20, 1922, in Ellendale, to Henry and Inga (Hatle) Lea and graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in 1945 with a degree in electrical engineering (BEE). While studying at the University of Minnesota, Herb worked at the Army-Navy Lab from 1945 to 1947 and also built his first radio station, KDHL, in Faribault. In 1951, he married Elaine Francis Zwiener, a remarkable woman who spoke seven languages, traveled the world with Pan American World Airways and was his best friend for 41 years.0409.obit.Lee.2

In 1954, Herb purchased radio station WKTY from the La Crosse Tribune and moved to La Crosse with his wife, Elaine, and two young children. He later began a second radio station, FM-WSPL, and operated both stations until his retirement in 1984. Herb was an avid airplane pilot and was instrumental in helping to start Mississippi Valley Airlines (MVA) when North Central Airlines discontinued flight service to La Crosse. He was co-owner of MVA until the airline merged with Air Wisconsin and relocated to the Quad Cities. Other business ventures Herb took on included bringing Bridgeman’s Ice Cream Parlours to La Crosse and developing an ice-tread foot apparel company. Fueled by his Catholic faith, Herb was a humble and quiet philanthropist who was committed to many charitable causes in the Coulee Region. Herb’s generosity and love touched many lives!

He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Elaine, in 1992; six sisters, Ardis (Noel) Thompson, Esther (Floyd) Johnson, Pearl (Russell) Anderson, Oriet (Harold) Johnson, Irene Hokanson, Bernice Lee, and twin sisters in infancy.

Email newsletter signup

Herb is survived by his eight children, Stephanie (Robin) Swartz of Dresbach, Mark (Joni) Lee of Lakeville, Roberta (Ed) Johnson of Holmen, Wis., Brian (Connie) Lee of La Crosse, Steve (Susan) Lee of Apple Valley, Tom (Carol) Lee of Plymouth, Maureen (Ron) Mangseth of San Diego, Calif., and Melissa (Bryan) Stebel of San Diego; 20 grandchildren, Lauren Swartz, Kristin Swartz, Nikki (Jeff) Stewart, Lindsey (John) Hutchins, Kelsey Johnson, Alec Johnson, Ryan Lee, Kendra Lee, Michelle Lee and Aaron Johnson, Alyssa Lee, Dylan Lee, Maximilian Lee, Nathan Lee, Miranda Lee, Samantha Mangseth, Sabrina Mangseth, Connor Mangseth, Dekker Stebel, Preston Stebel and Alexis Stebel; three great-grandchildren, Keely and Kiera Stewart and Jullian Johnson; and one brother, Jerome (Evelyn) Lee. Herb is also survived by many nieces and nephews.0409.obit.lee.1

The family would like to extend a special thanks to the Bethany Riverside and Bethany on Cass staff as well as Dr. Momont and Dr. Chaney at Gundersen Lutheran for the kind and compassionate care they provided Herb over the past several years.

A funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 130 Losey Blvd. So., La Crosse, WI. Family and friends may call from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. today at the Blaschke & Schneider Funeral Home, 1501 West Ave. So., La Crosse, with a rosary to be held at 7:30 p.m. Visitation will also be held from 10 a.m. until the time of the Mass at the church on Wednesday.

Online condolences may be made at www.blaschkeschneider.com.

Memorials in Herb’s memory may be directed to the Marian Catechist Apostolate, PO Box 637, La Crosse, WI, 54602.