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A Funeral Service for Otto I. Lee of Baudette, MN will be held on Saturday, January 6, 2024 at 2:00PM at First Lutheran Church in Baudette, MN. Visitation will be held on Friday, January 5, 2024 from 5-7PM. Interment will take place at Elm Park Cemetery in Baudette, MN.
Otto I Lee was born March 31, 1928 to Ole O. and Rose Lee of Ross in Roseau County, MN. On December 30, 2023, he passed away at Lakewood Health Center in Baudette. He grew up on a dairy and grain farm. His father had emigrated from Norway. There were eight kids in the family who were taught to be hard working, sincere, honest, and caring.
Otto was baptized and confirmed in Concordia Lutheran Church, Ross. He attended a 1-room country school for seven years. When he started school he only spoke Norwegian, so had to learn the English language. After country school he attended Badger High School graduating in 1946. After high school he spent time working on the family farm until the Korean War broke out and Otto was called to active duty for 2 years. He took his basic training in Fort Riley, Kansas, and then shipped overseas. He was in the U.S. Army and spent considerable time in North Korea where he was wounded in action and was hospitalized in Japan. He received the purple heart for wounds received in combat. After discharge he went back to his home community for a while but enrolled at the U of M in agriculture and received his Bachelor of Science degree in December, 1957.
In early 1958 an Extension position opened up in LOW County. He applied and was hired starting work on May 5, 1958 as county agricultural agent. He held that position for 36 years. Being the only agent in the county, he wore “many hats” including agriculture, 4-H and youth, community development, and, sometimes, some home economics duties plus all the administrative matters. He also did some research projects that were pertinent to LOW agriculture. Education was the main focus of every ag meeting and farm tour. Otto could be found helping a farmer in his field, a feedlot, or at the kitchen table with a 4-H member. He also attended many out-of-town meetings for information updates.
Otto spent many seasons helping potato growers by tending the hygrothermograph – an instrument used to measure temperature, humidity, and rainfall 24/7. The info was analyzed and used in predicting when early and late blight might occur in the potato fields. Growers were notified when this might happen and could apply fungicide for control. Potato fertility trials were also a part of this effort.
A major ag industry in LOW and Roseau County was grass seed research and production. The Grass Seed and Legume Seed Institute was a major event for growers, business people and others interested. It was well attended and an excellent way to disperse information.
The National Association of County Agricultural Agents held their annual meeting in a different state each year. Otto was a Minnesota voting delegate for four years and attended approximately 15 annual meetings. He served as secretary of the MN Assn. of County Agents for 4 years.
For 35+ years Otto wrote a weekly column entitled “Farm Topics”. Additionally, he wrote special ag-related feature stories for the local paper.
In 1967 Otto and Ruth (Brune) were married at Concordia (Pickeral Lake) Lutheran Church of rural Albert Lea. They have made their home in Baudette and continued to serve church and community. Otto served as president of First Lutheran Church, on the building committee for the new church and helped Ruth on the altar committee. He served on the county fair board (40 yrs.), LOW Food Shelf Treasurer (25 yrs,) and numerous other ag and community boards.
Otto was preceded in death by his parents; sisters Martha Christianson (Arnold); Ann Turtinen (Leo); Olga Ydstie (Orlin); brothers Carl (Ann); Robert (Lorna); Lloyd(Shirley); Nels; and a brother-in-law Arlen Brune. He is survived by his wife, Ruth, a sister-in-law, Carol Brune, and many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews.
And here are a few parting words from Otto: There are great people in the LOW area. They always say, “hello” and call me by my first name. They are all my friends. The public knows who I am, even though I may only know 50% by name. It is always a very friendly and welcoming feeling as a friend and will always be remembered.
“Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant”
Memorials may be given to First Lutheran Church, CHI Lakewood Health Center