Love of God, love of family, love of country, and love of the Green Bay Packers. That’s what was important to David “Dave” Peter Lee, who transitioned from this planet with his wife and family by his bedside on Saturday, December 11, at 12:32 pm. He was 65-years-old.
Dave never wanted to be called a “fighter,” but a fighter is exactly what he was after dealing with serious health issues that lead to a life-saving liver/kidney transplant on December 12, 2015. However, there were some bumps in the road after the transplant due to complications, hospitalizations, and an aggressive cancer diagnosis in early 2021. He faced the cancer head on and did everything he could to stay with his family. First, enduring surgery to remove his eye, then 6-weeks of radiation, and near the end, weekly immunotherapy treatments. It all proved to be too much for his body to handle, yet his spirit to live was as strong as ever. Even when he was taken off a ventilator, he refused to stop trying and lived almost a day breathing on his own, coming just 12 hours short of celebrating the six-year anniversary of his transplant.
The perfect description of Dave comes from his 9-year-old son, Ryan Charles; whenever anyone asks about what he’ll remember most about his Daddy, he answers, “He never gave up.”
Dave was born on October 2, 1956, at St. Ann’s Hospital in La Crosse, WI to Richard Duane Sr., who passed away in 2006, and Marilyn Gertrude (Schreiber) Lee. He is the fourth of six children, which includes his older sisters, Debra (Charles) and Pamela (Timothy); older brother, Richard (Sheila), younger sister; Lisa, and younger brother, Steven (Jill). The family moved to Rochester, MN, early on in Dave’s life, where Marilyn still resides to this day. He graduated from John Marshal Senior High School in 1974 and had one of the best high school experiences ever, playing trumpet in band, hanging with friends, and making it on the court for one JV basketball game.
A man committed to protecting his country, Dave joined the Air Force when he was just 17-years old, weeks after he graduated from JMHS. He proudly served for 7 years. He worked primarily as a Radio Communications Analyst Specialist and was first stationed at Royal Air Force Chicksands, England on the 6950th Security Squadron. Later, he transferred back to the United States and finished his military career at Fort George G. Mead in Maryland. He received an Honorable Discharge on July 14, 1981 and earned the rank of Sergeant as a non-commissioned officer. Dave would always talk fondly of his time in the Air Force, especially when he was stationed in England.
After serving in the Air Force, he held a variety of professional roles that included opening new retail locations for Shopko, managing projects for Aim Department Store, installing security and fire alarm systems for Simplex Grinnell, and working in various jobs to earn an honest paycheck.
It was on a trip for Shopko in Sioux City, IA that Dave met, and fell in love with Vicki Joy Navin. On July 14, 1984, they were married. They had three children, Joshua David, Angelika Noelle, and Emily Elizabeth. They lived out east for a time and eventually settled in Green Bay, WI where they raised their family together. They were married for 23 years until Vicki passed away unexpectedly at the age of 46 on May 7, 2007. Upon her death, Dave committed himself to taking care of his family and worked hard to provide them with what they needed.
Dave found love again when he met Carla Marie Guetschow working at Festival Foods. After a short courtship filled with long conversations, they married on September 9, 2010, and two years later, Carla gave birth to their beautiful boy, Ryan. They became a happy trio who were inseparable, going everywhere together. When they weren’t at the park playing tennis or running around after the soccer ball, you could find them eating all the things at Brewer games, taking day trips to Kewaunee Beach, playing arcade games at Dave & Busters, building LEGOS (mostly Ryan and Dave) and playing Nintendo Wii in the living room. Even when Dave wasn’t feeling the best, they still came together, making memories filled with laughter, love, and a whole bunch of fun.
As Ryan said when he told Dave good-bye, “I can’t believe our journey together is over.” The family knows that more happy memories will be made, but they will not be the same without their patriarch.
Dave is survived by his wife of 11 years, Carla, and their son Ryan; his three grown children with Vicki, Josh (Monica and sons Theodore and Julian), Angelika (Kyle, children Nathaniel, Skylar, Kayden and Preston), Emily (Allen and stepchildren, Gaius and Avacyn); his mother Marilyn; five brothers and sisters; Father and mother in-law Donald and Nancy Guetschow; Brother in-law Craig Lesperance (children, Nathan and Reagan); and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Visitation will be at Proko Wall Funeral Home, 1630 E. Mason St., Thursday, December 16, 2021, from 5:00 p.m. until the time of Funeral Service at 8:00 p.m. with Rev. David Hatch officiating. If attending, wear your Packer gear to honor Dave’s all-time favorite team. Burial will be at Nicolet Memorial Gardens. Full Military Honors will be presented. Online condolences may be expressed at www.prokowall.com. In lieu of flowers and other expressions of sympathies a memorial will be established in David’s name, part of which will be used to start a college fund for his son Ryan.
Special thanks to the Aurora BayCare Second Floor ICU team for the support they provided during Dave’s final days, particularly nurses Trisha, Matt and Dr. Fatima Diaban. We wouldn’t have been able to get through this difficult time without you.