Obituary Record

Paul Elmer Lee
Died on 9/28/1959
Buried in Holy Cross (Catholic Church) Cemetery

This long obituary is taken from the collection in the Notebook of Long Obituaries. The original newspaper article can be found in the Blair Library, Genealogy Room.

#1-Published in Pilot-Tribune, September 28, 1959


Two pictures: 1st picture -Washington County’s fourth 1960 fatality was recorded in the accident pictured above. In the foreground is the cab of the truck and in the background (arrow) the truck box which was carried approximately a block south of the intersection. A wheel of the truck was found further south.

2nd picture -The above picture shows the cab of the truck, which was demolished. At the left of the cab is the truck engine which was torn loose from its frame.


Douglas Lee, 33 years of age, of Blair, died Sunday evening at Memorial Community Hospital of injuries received in a train-truck accident Friday afternoon about 2:15 o’clock.

Mr. Lee is Washington County’s fourth 1959 highway fatality.

The accident occurred at the intersection just east of The DeSoto Store. Mr. Lee was hauling rock from the Tobbin Quarries to the DeSoto Bend river project and was returning to the quarry when the accident occurred.

The truck was traveling south and the train south, when they collided at the intersection. The truck was completely demolished. The cab of the truck was in the ditch on the south side of the road with the engine torn loose from its frame. Parts of the truck were strewn along the right of way for several hundred feet.

Doris Harper, who operates the DeSoto Store, saw the accident and phoned the telephone operator and Sheriff Rudy Fick.

Mr. Lee received severe deep cuts and bruises and did not regain consciousness before dying.

Mr. Lee is survived by his wife, Dorothy, who has been working at Young’s Café as a waitress. Mr. and Mrs. Lee were married in July and moved to Blair from Duluth, Minn., in July.

A brother of Mrs. Lee, Robert Sokoloski, arrived in Blair and reports that Mr. Lee’s parents were both killed in a car-train accident when he was three years of age. A twin sister was also killed in a train-car accident.

The Campbell Mortuary is in charge of arrangements., which have not been completed.

#2-The date and place of publication of this newspaper article was not recorded. It did have a date handwritten, 1989.

Senator Frank Korshoj has announced that there will be a special memorial Service on Sunday, May 21 remembering and honoring the late Airborne Ranger Paul E. Lee.

The service will be at the Blair Cemetery at twelve o’clock. A special Airborne Ranger plaque will be placed on his headstone and letters of commendation from Sen. J. James Exon, Sen. Robert Kerry and Lieutenant Governor William Nichol will be ready by State Senator Frank Korshoj.

“This special memorial service is held, “Senator Korshoj said, “not merely to honor a Ranger but it serves as a reminder to all veterans within the state that their comrade in arms has not been forgotten. It is hoped that the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars will invite all of their member from the area to participate in this memorial service.”

Ranger Paul Lee lived in the Blair community and had two sons. His son Forest will be here to attend the ceremony and to receive the commendations honoring his father. There will be an honor guard, firing squad and the playing of Taps. Everyone is invited and urged to attend this memorial ceremony.

#3 Printed in the March 20, 1961 Pilot Tribune, Blair, Nebraska


In the County Court of Washington County, Nebraska, Case No. 4684, Book J, Page 365

In the matter of the estate of Paul Elmer Lee, Deceased


You are hereby notified that Dorothy Lee, adminiatrix of said estate, has filed a petition in said Court for the distribution of the sum received for the wrongful death of said decedant, which petition will be heard by said Court on March 28, 1961, at 10:00 o’clock, A.M.

WITNESS my hand and the seal of said Court this 10th day of March, 1961.

(SEAL) H.J. MADSEN, County Judge T11-3t

#3 Military and other records gathered by Mary Jo Kubie are as follows:

Paul Elmer Lee (also used the name Paul Edward Lee, with two Social Security numbers)

He was born June 22, 1926 to Myrtle Lee in Saint Mary's Home for un-wed mothers in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He stayed there with his mother until September 8, 1926, when he was released to Myrtle Lee and to his grandmother, Albertine Lee. His grandmother raised him until forced to tell Paul who was his birth mother. Paul had wanted to marry a young girl by the name of Alice Willette. Alice was also the daughter of Paul's birth father, though by different mothers. Being denied the opportunity to marry Alice, Paul left town in rage.

In about October, 1942 he was arrested for breaking and entering in Rusk County, Wisconsin. Since it was not murder, the records were not kept, and were unable to be verified in 2001 (they remained a family story). After Paul was discharged from the Reserves, he re-enlisted in the regular Army. After Paul's 2nd discharge in Fort Hood, Texas, the family assumes that he met and married Lela Mae Stone. They were blessed with a son, Kenneth Paul Lee, in Michigan.

Paul left Lela and Kenneth Paul. Family legend has it that Lela had fallen in love with Paul's uncle, Carl Lee (son of Paul's grandmother) and she eventually married Carl.

Paul then re-enlisted in the Army in Spokane, Washington.

Paul was an excellent marksman, and family lore has it that Paul was a "hit man" for the Army. The 8th Army Rangers was a specialty troop that was often dropped behind battle lines to harm the enemy. According to other Army Rangers of the day, Paul was most likely called back to service as a result of his training.

On September 15, 1950, presidential orders came to organize and put together "Ranger" type troops to neutralize the Korean enemy. These troops were to be quickly assembled, the front lines being held by current military personnel. The fastest, most efficient way to do this was to bring in already trained personnel by enlisting inactive men. Paul had a third re-enlistment. In interviews with other Rangers, they had been pulled from inactive duty to serve with this new group.

Paul served all three terms of service faithfully. He was promoted several times, and honored as well, with the many medals he had been issued.

Paul met and married Mildred Holms while they were both in the service They were blessed with a son, Forrest Paul Lee on January 22, 1955 in Minnesota.

There was a third wife, Dorothy Smith. She was with him at his death in September, 1959.

Paul purchased three cemetery plots in Blair, Nebraska. He bought them in 1957, two years before his death.

He used two names frequently: Paul Elmer Lee and Paul Edward Lee. His two Social Security numbers were an actual one 365-20-3465 and then another one, 365-22-1926 (the year of his birth).

There are no records of divorce to any of his three wives: Lela Mae Stone-Mildred Holms-Dorothy Smith.

He had two known children: Kenneth Paul Lee (b. May 10, 1959 by Lela Mae Stone in Escanaba, Michigan) and Forrest Paul Lee (b. January 22, 1955 by Mildred Holms), and family legend has it that he had two additional children, one by Alice Willette and the other by Dorothy Smith.

His last civilian employment, a self-employed truck driver, was in Ellensburg, Washington, but in September 15, 1950, with the Presidential orders to organize and put together Ranger-type troops, he enlisted September 26, 1950 in Spokane, Washington as part of a medical team. On December 8, 1950, he was listed as Private First Class.

By February 26, 1951, he was listed as Corporal on "Morning Report". On April 3, 1951, the Army Rangers were disbanded. By February 5, 1952, he was listed as 6215 ASU (Pipeline) Fort Lawton; March 6, 1952 6219 Rc Fort Lewis; April 6, 507 Repl Co. Cp. Roberts. April 16, 1952 147 Armd-s16do, CP Roberts, May 6, 1952 Qualifications in Arms--"Expert"-Rifle M1. November 25, 1952 sent to Germany. 1953 September 10, US Army Infirmary, Fort Sheridan, Ill. Medical exam for discharge. Address listed at that time: Rural Route 1, Box 118 Wrenshall, Minn., and wife Mildred Lee (Holms).

He purchased a $10,000 Life insurance policy September 11, 1953, and that day he was discharged from Section VI SR. 615-360-5

On January 22, 1955, son Forrest Paul Lee was born in Minnesota to Mildred (Holms) Lee.

In July, 1957, Paul purchased 3 cemetery plots in Holy Cross, Blair, Nebraska.

The next year he applied to VFW Post 2962, and was member A-403-864

Sadly, on September 24, 1959, Paul Lee was hit by a train while crossing the tracks. He died 4 days later, and on September 30, he was buried in Holy Cross cemetery. His death certificate lists that he was at work at a railroad crossing by De Soto, in Washington County, Nebraska. The train hit the truck in which Paul was riding. His occupation at the time was a truck driver doing "River work" with the number 683 beside it. Paul died in the nearby Blair, Nebraska hospital, and his wife's name was Dorothy Lee. The doctor attending the deceased had been with Paul for the last three days, from 9/25 to 9/28 of 1959.

Paul's home address in 1959 was listed as 1446 Butler Street, Blair, Nebraska (on the corner of Butler and Hollostone). There is a note that mentions that he was buried there, but no casket was found when probed. (He may have been cremated and the ashes spread).

Sources: family member Terri, local genealogist Mary Jo Kubie (notes written in 2001 to local military historian Pat Hunsche). The notes are kept by the Nebraska Washington County Genealogical Society, at the Public Library, Blair, Nebraska.


Additional notes: After typing this, I (MrsB) spoke with the current owner of the house at 1446 Butler Street , who has lived there since about 1951. She remembers Paul Lee and his wife, who were rooming in the basement. Paul and his wife Dorothy only lived there for 2-3 months before his death. She was pretty, and after Paul passed, Dorothy spent time with her landlady, grieving. Paul was a short, stocky, good-looking man. He and Dorothy enjoyed dancing in Arlington, Nebraska on Saturday nights. He did have a temper, and was a drinker, but he was nice to visit with otherwise.

~~~ Obituaries courtesy of the Nebraska Washington County Genealogical Society. Newspaper clippings on file in the Public Library, Blair, Nebraska ~~~

FindaGrave #131251079

Printed in the Washington County Pilot-Tribune on 9/28/1959