He was born Feb. 8, 1935 in Caledonia, Minn. to Ward and Leone (Mechtel) Lee. Tom graduated from Loretto High School in 1952. He married his childhood sweetheart, Shirley Deschner on July 31, 1954 at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Caledonia.
Tom went to work as an Ironworker with his dad in 1954 and retired in 1999. He helped build bridges, power plants and industrial buildings throughout the U.S. and he was the general foreman of the I90 bridge crossing the Mississippi River in La Crescent. Later he was a business agent for the iron workers union and he drove motor coach for Ready Bus Lines, La Crescent.
Tom enjoyed golfing, hunting, fishing and traveling. He and Shirley raised eight children on a small hobby farm outside La Crescent and by his example, he instilled a strong work ethic in all his children. He loved watching his children compete in sports, as well as coaching little league baseball and football. He also enjoyed spending his winters in Texas and he was an avid Green Bay Packer fan.
He is survived by his wife, Shirley of Brownsville; eight children, Jeff (Esther Derby), Duluth, Minn.; Deb Kelly, Charleston, S.C.; Bob (Tamra), La Crosse; Tom (Jenelle), La Crescent; Steve, Brownsville; Rick, Westford, Mass.; Joe, Pine City, Minn.; and Mike (Amy), Concord, Mass.; 10 grandchildren, Theresa and A’nna Kelly, Nikki Johnson, Andy Lee, Jacob Feldman, Jackie, Angie, and Kyle Lee, Allyson and Samantha Lee; two great-grandchildren; two sisters, Kay Link, La Crosse and Donna (Bob) Vermillion,Denver, Colo.; two brothers, Mike (Sue) Lee and Terry (Cheryl) Lee, and sister-in-law, Carol Lee, all of Caledonia.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a grandson, Christopher; and a brother, Norman.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 22, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Brownsville. Father Gregory Leif will officiate and burial will be in Crucifixion Cemetery, La Crescent. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday at Breza Hall, next to the church, where a prayer service will be said at 7:30 p.m. Visitation will also be from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday morning before the service at the church.
McCormick Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements and online condolences may be given at mccormickfuneralhome.net.