Sky Scene 06

Byron Gene Lee

March 20, 1941 ~ September 3, 2023 (age 82) 82 Years Old


After 82 years filled with adventures, fantastic stories, and many weekends and evenings spent camping, fishing, hunting and exploring the outdoors with his family and friends, Byron Gene Lee passed away on September 3, 2023. 

Gene was born in Cortez, Colorado to Pricie E. and Hazel (Conrad) Lee on March 20, 1941. As the fifth child, Gene had two older sisters (Lucile & Eva) and two older brothers (Jack & Denny). By all accounts, he was the quintessential baby boy and as such, he was kinda spoiled. 

His dad worked as a laborer and farm hand which meant they moved often and followed the crops, spending some time in AZ, CA and CO. By 1953 they were living in Independence, Missouri and at 12 years old, Gene relished the role of his mom's constant companion; he went everywhere with her. Then in September, tragedy struck. Gene decided to stay home with a neighbor and while driving Jack back to the military base with his new bride Barbara, Hazel fell asleep at the wheel. She would die from the injuries sustained in that head-on collision and Gene's life was forever altered. For several years, he and his dad leaned on one another as best they could and moved often for work. Whether it was living in a wall tent while Pricie worked as a laborer on the road over Wolf Creek pass or subsisting on fire-roasted squirrel and frog legs (so the story goes), they managed to survive. But by the time his dad remarried (Vera) and Gene turned 16, home just wasn't the same so he hightailed it out of there. He spent many listless and rambunctious years, sleeping on siblings' couches, digging pipelines in Texas, wreaking havoc (at times), and hustlin' up lawn and yard work with his brothers in AZ.   

By 1962 he had settled in Dodge City, Kansas and was working at the Anthrum Lumber Yard sharing a duplex with a fella he referred to as "Pineknot". Then one evening while dragging main, he met Mary Alice Penka. He'd tell you it was her fast car (55' Ford Crown Victoria) that drew his attention, but everyone could see, he was truly smitten with her. Gene and Mary were married on November 3, 1962, at the Fowler Methodist Church, they lived in Dodge City for a short time before heading to the hills. 

They moved to Leadville, Colorado in 1963 where Gene worked at the Climax molybdenum mine as a 1st class welder and fabricator until 1969. At 11,000 feet altitude and over the course of five years they would welcome three boys, Edward Gene in 1963, Byron Wade in 1966 and Bret Duane in 1967. Leaving Leadville in 1969 for a short stint in Kansas, they were then off to Osgood, Idaho where Gene would work the farm with his brother and sister in-law David & Mina Jones. There they enjoyed many holidays and weekends with the Jones' and Veva and Gary Immroth. It was in Osgood, that Gene and Mary gave their children the "best childhood any boy could ask for" filled with toy trucks, bicycles, dirt clods, bb-guns, bird hunting along the ditch banks in the fall, homemade bread every Saturday and just enough garden weeding to grow enough pocket change for treats at the Osgood store.

In 1973, Gene would start at U-haul as a trailer technician, he moved up to a truck mechanic and eventually a shop manager with his "5-star crew" until the shop here in Idaho Falls closed in 1987. He opened Snowbird RV shop in Idaho Falls for a few years, and then finished up his working years at Cal Stores as a sales associate in Idaho Falls (he loathed free "popcorn" days).  He retired early due to physical ailments (practically bionic with all the metal they attached over the years), but he was always ready to shock and awe listeners (aka grandkids) with stories of his past adventures. Although he interacted with those outside of the family less and less over the past few years, there was a time when Gene would eagerly "shoot-skip" from his C.B. base station at home ("brass monkey" was his handle). He enjoyed many conversations with new friends nationwide, and old friends closer to home like "Mr. Tubbs", "Mountain Man", "pilot light" and "salty dawg" (if you know them, you know). 

In 1980 Gene and Mary purchased a brand-new home and together with the (slave) labor of their hardworking boys, put in quite a yard. Forty-three years have flown by, and the family has grown large enough that the cozy living room cannot contain the annual Christmas Eve gathering. Despite that, the fond memories remain, and all of us have come to rely on and admire the love that created that home. Indeed, it is in that home where Gene passed from this life into next, surrounded by his family, and most importantly with "his Mary" right by his side. 

Gene leaves behind his much loved wife of 60 years, Mary; his sons, Eddie (Trisha) of Lewisville;  Wade (Kim) of Rigby, and Bret (Angie) of Lewisville; 12 grandkids, 12 great-grandkids, and 2 more boys arriving this fall. 

He is preceded in death by his parents; all his siblings; his brother-in-laws, David and Oscar; and Roman Blair, his great-grandson. 

Despite his wishes, the family will celebrate his life with a small gathering on October 8, 2023 at the Community Center in Lewisville, Idaho (time TBD).

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