Obituary: Steve Lee

steve lee obit.jpg
Posted at 4:21 PM, Jan 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-17 18:21:09-05

Steve Lee
June 3, 1960 - January 7, 2024

Between birth and death is the dash that represents someone’s life. Steve was fond of saying he was living the dash.

He was, above all, a humorist. He began drawing caricatures and cartoons at an early age. He used this skill to win friends and avoid punishment by making people laugh. He created logos, greeting cards, children’s books, comic strips, t-shirts, and stickers. He never stopped drawing and giggling. There were cartoons and doodles on every scrap of paper in the house.

He also loved to express himself in music, entertaining family and friends by composing hundreds of songs, from the absurd to the profound. He appreciated all kinds of music, especially when performed live, and spent time consuming it via YouTube, festivals, and concerts. He loved discovering new bands, musicians, and genres, creating a soundtrack for our life together.

Steve collected an entourage of friends of all ages and from every walk of life. People were drawn to his sense of humor and sharp wit but stayed for his sage advice and analysis. Family, friends, and even former employees would contact Steve, out of the blue, for advice on life, love, and work. He always listened with empathy and an open heart.

A voracious reader, he was well informed on a huge variety of topics and was able to retain a library of random facts for immediate recall. He loved writing and talking about almost any subject. The bravest of his family and friends delighted in trying to best him in debate with little success.

Steve was born and raised in Bozeman, MT. From kindergarten through his bachelor’s degree, he lived, learned, and laughed his way through Bozeman schools, from Emerson Elementary to Montana State University.

After graduating with a business degree, he chased a girl to San Diego. That girl, Toni Lorentz, eventually relented and became his wife, Toni Lee. While in San Diego, they opened their doors to friends and family. Some stayed, some didn’t, but all were lifted by Steve’s genuine caring and compassion.

Like so many people who seek excitement and opportunity in a new place Steve worked a variety of jobs before landing a career in the private college industry. His success with Kelsey Jenney College gave him the opportunity to design business systems and employment software, but, more importantly, it gave him lifelong friends. His career path eventually led him to the San Diego City College Technology Incubator where he guided entrepreneurs from concept to viability in technology and manufacturing.

Yearning to be closer to family, Steve and Toni eventually sold their home in San Diego and returned to Bozeman where Steve focused on more creative endeavors. They enjoyed many adventures in the sanctuary of the mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers of their beloved state and throughout the western US.

Steve grew up hunting with his father, and while he cherished those memories, he later became unable to kill even the tiniest household pest. All animals were sacred to Steve, and he was rarely without a four-legged companion. He will be greeted on the “Rainbow Bridge” by a vast menagerie of dogs, cats, and even a pet skunk.

Steve was predeceased by his father, Donald L. Lee, and is survived by his wife of 37 years, Toni (Lorentz) Lee; mother, Barbara (Myers) Lee; sisters, Rebecca Behrent (Darrel, deceased) and Kathy Dixon (Tom); brother, Harlan Lee; and a niece, numerous nephews, and his beloved pets, Tyrus and Jax.

In My Life 

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all

-John Lennon/Paul McCartney 

There will be a Celebration of Steve’s Life on Monday, June 3, 2024 at the couple’s home in Bozeman. Inquiries can be made at Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. []