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Published July 10, 2012, 12:00 AM

Gilmore Lee

Gilmore Harvey Lee, longtime farmer near Arvilla, N.D., and onetime conservative activist died July 3, 2012 in Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, after several years of heart and kidney disease. He was 84.

Lee was born Jan. 8, 1928, to Mabel Johnson, at Hatton, N.D.

Gilmore Lee

Gilmore Harvey Lee, longtime farmer near Arvilla, N.D., and onetime conservative activist died July 3, 2012 in Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, after several years of heart and kidney disease. He was 84.

Lee was born Jan. 8, 1928, to Mabel Johnson, at Hatton, N.D.

Gilmore spoke only Norwegian until he started first grade at the country school in a farm field 1 mile from his home.

When he was six, his mother married Ben Lee of Northwood, N.D., who became Gilmore's father.

He graduated from Hatton High School in 1945 and continued farming with his parents and for other farmers.

He met Edith Evanson of Northwood, N.D., after noticing her in a college play in Mayville, N.D.

Edith left her studies at the University of Minnesota to marry him in 1949 and they began farming.

In 1954 they bought the place southwest of Arvilla where they lived until moving into Grand Forks in 2010.

From the late 1960s until the early 1980s, Lee was a regional coordinator for the John Birch Society, traveling at times across North Dakota, South Dakota and much of Minnesota organizing local chapters.

Gilmore was known for his enthusiasm in sharing his conservative views.

But farming defined his life.

Like many farmers of his generation, Gilmore combined the talents of a veterinarian, mechanic, welder, butcher, agronomist and just about whatever came up; late in life he took to computers.

He was proud of the nine miles of tree shelterbelts he and his family planted and nurtured with the help of the Soil Conservation Service in the early 1960s; and for once bringing home five horses and an antique saddle he bought for $300 for his five children.

He had a passion for deer hunting along the Goose River near Northwood and Hatton, as well as organizing hunting trips to to the Badlands of North Dakota, the mountains of Montana and in South Dakota and Wyoming and was a crack shot.

One of his joys late in life was meeting his first cousin, Amy, from Norway, as well as other relatives in America of his biological father, Thorsten Thorstenson, whom he never met. Born in Norway, Thorstenson died in Alaska in 1968.

The love of Gilmore's life was his wife of 62 years, Edith, with whom he had five children and 19 grandchildren.

Gilmore's Lutheran faith was important to him and he and Edith were glad to be part of starting Living Faith Free Lutheran Church in Larimore.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Mabel and Ben Lee; and a child lost in miscarriage.

He is survived by his wife, Grand Forks; daughters Cathy Snyder, Cheyenne, Wyo.; Elizabeth (William) Cody, Ramsey, Minn.; and Nancy (Kevin) Wittmer, Ferndale, Wash.; sons Stephen (Cathy), Arvilla, N.D., and David (Paige), Peoria, Ill.; sisters Beatrice (Gary) Tangen, Washburn, N.D., and Sylvia (Wayne) Nelson, Hawley, Minn.; his uncle and friend, Marvin Lee; 19 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.

His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 7 in Living Faith Free Lutheran Church, Larimore, N.D., a prayer service will be held 7 p.m. Friday in Bakke Funeral Home, with visitation starting at 5 p.m. Interment will be in St. John Lutheran Cemetery, Hatton.

Online Guestbook: bakkefuneralhomes.com

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