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Obituary – James W. Lee

James William Lee, age 96, son of Fred Eugene Lee and Dove Emma (Gordineer) Lee, was born on January 3, 1927, in Raymondville, Mo. He passed away peacefully at his home in Raymondville, Mo., on March 21, 2023.

James is preceded in death by his wife, Gail Lee, of Raymondville; his father, Fred Eugene Lee, of Raymondville; his mother, Dove Emma (Gordineer) Lee, of Raymondville; two sons, Jim Lee, of Raymondville, and Darrell Lee, of Raymondville; two sisters, Rose DeWitt, of Houston, Mo., and Annabelle Lee, of Raymondville; two brothers, Roy Lee, of Roseburg, Ore., and Leon (Dunk) Lee of Houston, Mo.; two son-in-laws, George Heath, of Houston, and Dennis French, of Raymondville; one granddaughter, Carrie Alicia (Lee) Goforth, of Licking; one grandson, Ian Edward Heath, of Nixa; and one great-grandson, Aedon Thane Heath, of Nixa.

James is survived by one son, Don Lee, of Foristell; four daughters, Becky Heath, of Houston, and companion, Dennis Brown, of Raymondville, Beth Ann Cooper and Jackie Ray Cooper, of Raymondville, Kathy French, of Raymondville, and Shirley Mullen and Dewayne Mullen, of Mtn. Grove; one sister, Eunice Nicholson, of Tulsa, Okla.; two daughter-in-laws, Delaina Lee, of Raymondville, and Michaelle Lee, of Raymondville. Surviving grandchildren, Lonnie Lee, of Bucyrus, Darrell Lee, of Summersville, Alison Wilcox, of Gilbert, Iowa, Brynt Cooper, of Strafford, Jayme Roeber, of Clever, Annie Wells, of Houston, Madalynn Lee, of Champagne, Ill., Josh Lee, of Houston, Nick French, of Raymondville, Coleman Lee, of Columbia, Denim Lee, of Houston, and honorary grandson, Joe Bressie of Raymondville; along with numerous great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren whom he loved very much.

James was born in Raymondville, Mo., and attended school at Friendship School, in Raymondville, where he would meet his future wife, Gail. They always shared stories about how they met. Sometimes there were conflicting details, but they both agreed that James on occasion would skip school and jump logs with his bicycle in the school yard just to impress her. This must have been pretty effective because they were married in Salem, Mo., on January 8, 1948, and earlier this year celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. Through this marriage, 7 children were born, Jim, Becky, Beth Ann, Donnie, Kathy, Darrell and Shirley.

James accepted Christ as his Savior as a teenager and was baptized by Brother Rado Wilson. He spent his life faithfully serving the Lord and attending church services at Wildwood House of Prayer, in Raymondville. He loved playing his guitar and singing hymns with everyone. When his health no longer allowed him to attend church services, family and friends from their church came to his home on occasion to have services there. All of his kids were convinced that he and Gail must have had a direct line to God when they prayed.

At a young age he enjoyed the adventurous life riding in railroad cars and hitchhiking back and forth to Illinois to see his cousins. As a teenager he joined the Navy and, on several occasions, would hitchhike back home from California. He always talked about being able to watch the Indians dancing at night. He was always very proud of his Native American heritage. After he returned from the Navy, James spent his years working to support his family. He drove a route on a milk truck, spent several years as a carpenter in St. Louis and Fort Leonard Wood, and then working in the mines around Boss and Ironton. One morning on his way to work, he had the misfortune of hitting a small deer in the road. Of course, he was sure it had killed the deer, so he loaded it in the trunk of his car and headed back home. Once he got home, he went in the house and told Gail what had happened and that he needed her to come out to the car. They both went out to the trunk of the car and opened the trunk. Much to both of their surprise, the deer was very much alive. The deer jumped up and made the great escape. Now, anyone that knows James can tell you that he didn’t get too excited about much and didn’t really move too fast, but that day he had a newfound energy and a lot of moves that none of us had witnessed before. After he was disabled, he concentrated on farming, raising cows and gardening with Gail. His son, Darrell, always kept him busy hauling cars for him for his salvage yard. This gave James the opportunity to meet new people, and he always loved cutting up and visiting with them everywhere they went.

James always loved spending time with his kids, grandkids and great grandkids. When he worked in St. Louis, he would save up all of his change through the week and keep it in his suitcase so when he got home the kids would all gather around him and play guess the year on the coin. The next morning they would all go to Houston, to the Ben Franklin store to spend their coins. He always had time to sit down and take the kids on an “imaginary trip.” His grandchildren loved his versions of the Marlin Perkins adventures, which would always feature James’ dog Pepper chasing and capturing wild animals.

He loved playing his guitar and singing with his family. It was always a good time when he and his brother, Leon (Dunk), would get together and play and sing. He loved going to the Current River Opry and always looked forward to the Raymondville Picnic and Old Settlers Reunion in Houston, to go and listen to the music, and sit and visit with friends, and watch his kids and grandkids in the demolition derbies.

James loved Gail’s cooking, especially her homemade pies. He learned a very valuable lesson the day that he hollered to Gail and said, “Hey Wifey, hit me with a piece of that pie.” No one was more surprised than he was when she launched that pie and hit him right square in the face. He would always remind her to cook enough for the hungry stranger if he stopped by later. For the longest time everyone was convinced that there really might be someone stopping by and would be hungry, only to find out later that it really was him.

James loved riding 4-wheelers, golf carts and side by sides, and was always ready for a picnic trip to Cedar Grove. One weekend after there had been so much rain and flooding the family decided to all get together and take a float trip down Current River. Looking back this probably wasn’t the best idea. After crashing several canoes in deep water, everyone quickly was trying to get out of the water and check to see if everyone was safe. They were especially concerned because James could not swim. Panic set in until he was spotted sitting on the creek bank. He was coughing and had a strange green tint to his face. When he got questioned on how he got back to the bank so quickly, he jokingly said I just walked on the bottom (underwater of course) and walked out. The strange color to his face was later explained when he confessed, he had swallowed his chewing tobacco in the process of getting out.

James was a great husband, father, grandfather, brother, neighbor and friend. He loved the Lord and was always so proud of all his family. His big smile and giggle were usually an indication that he was up to something. When you saw this, you knew it wouldn’t be long before there was another story to tell.

He will be missed every day by all of us that knew and loved him so much.

A visitation for James will take place Saturday, March 25, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wildwood House of Prayer Church. A funeral service will begin at 1 p.m. at the Wildwood Church. Burial will follow in Friendship Cemetery. Online condolences may be left at Arrangements entrusted to Evans Funeral Home.

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