Patricia Joan Lee was born on March 13, 1948 in Yankton, South Dakota to John and Joan (Muller) Lee of Tyndall, South Dakota. The second of six children, Pat will be remembered for her cheerful and loving disposition.
As a member of the Tyndall High School Class of 1966, Pat was an “A student” and loved math and the sciences. She was a talented musician, playing the alto and bass saxophones in band and the organ for funerals and daily Mass at St Leo’s Catholic Church. She wanted to be a lawyer and brought home many debate trophies as a member of the THS Debate team. In 1965, Pat won the REA youth writing contest and traveled to Washington, DC, where she was honored to meet Senator George McGovern. The trip was one of a lifetime and lived on in Pat’s memory. Pat was her older sister Mary’s shadow, and enjoyed caring for her younger siblings after school. She loved to drive The Blue Bomb and go to Groveland Park on Saturday nights.
On Labor Day, 1965, Pat was involved in a car accident from which she suffered many injuries including a traumatic brain injury that nearly took her life. She spent years in rehabilitation and was most benefitted by a strong will and a family and community that surrounded her with love and understanding. Her Grandmother Dorothy Muller aided her in re-learning to speak and play the piano. Her neighbor Florene Dobesh assisted with the needed physical therapy that enabled Pat to walk again.
Pat regained an active life and lit up any room she entered. She loved attending her brother Vince’s sporting events and “coffeeing” with family friends. She kept track of her high school classmates and cheered on their accomplishments. In 1970, Pat cruised to Alaska with her Grandma Dorothy on The Princess Pat and danced with the ship’s Captain. She routinely played the piano and enjoyed playing duets with her sisters Fran and Laura. She played the organ for her sister Jacquie’s wedding. Pat always did the lunch dishes and made her siblings’ beds when they were off to school. She helped her mom keep a tidy house and was notorious for spotting lint. Pat loved to play Kings on the Corner and taught her nieces and nephew to play. She never had a cross word, and a generation of Tyndall’s youth learned acceptance and patience through their dealings with Pat.
In 1988, Pat moved to Pierre, South Dakota, where she became a resident of Oahe Inc. She loved having her own apartment. She made many friends and enjoyed going to work, fishing and bowling. Visits back to Tyndall were always exciting for her. Pat later lived at Good Samaritan Center in Tyndall and Phoenix Mountain Skilled Nursing Center in Phoenix where she died peacefully in the presence of family on May 15, 2021.
Pat was preceded in death by her parents, John and Joan “Mick” Lee; her Grandparents, John and Frances Lee and Fred and Dorothy Muller; and her niece, Amy Ruman Jackson.
Pat is survived by her siblings: Mary (Stephen) Schnitker, Council Bluffs, IA; Jacquie (Mark “The Kid”) Kelley, Scotland, SD; Vince (Sandra) Lee, Scottsdale, AZ; Fran Lee, Rapid City, SD; and Laura (Steve) Sales, Salem, OR. She is also survived by her nieces and nephew: Amanda Schnitker-Sayers, Kathleen Schnitker, Robyn Lee, Rebecca Lee, Ryan Ruman and Katie Cooper. Pat is also survived by seven great nieces and nephews and spent her last years being entertained by Jaxson and Vivienne who visited with her at Phoenix Mountain.
Pat’s siblings would like to acknowledge the many people from Tyndall who loved Pat and helped with her care and the raising of her younger siblings. Pat’s story was not an easy one, but was softened by the love of a community that ensured she and her family did not face their challenges alone. The family prefers masks are worn but are not required.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Pat may be sent to the Choir Fund at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Tyndall or to the Tyndall Community Foundation.