Elmer “Lee” L. Rathjen, 80

Published 7:29 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Elmer “Lee” L. Rathjen, 80

Elmer “Lee” LeRoy Rathjen, age 80, of Lyle, Minnesota, went to meet the Lord on Saturday, July 22, 2023, surrounded by his family and faithful canine companion. He was born January 12, 1943, in Iowa City, Iowa. His adoptive parents, Elmer and Maxine Rathjen, took him home on January 22, 1943, to their farm in Granville, Iowa. The family moved to Austin, Minnesota in 1948 and farmed east of Austin. Lee attended Queen of Angels and Pacelli High School. He obtained his GED in 1959. In 1960, he joined the United States Army. Lee was given a medical discharge after being injured. He married his love, Ruth Tebay, at the Little Brown Church in Nashua, Iowa on November 6, 1963. A daughter, Julie LeAnna, was born to this union on December 29, 1978, and it was love at first sight.

Lee was an excellent mechanic working in Rochester, Minnesota until 1972, when he and Ruth moved to Valdez, Alaska. He attended the Department of Public Safety Academy located in Sitka, Alaska and was a police officer/investigator in Valdez, Alaska. Lee tired of police work in 1984 and transferred to the City Shop, where he was a heavy equipment mechanic. He then transferred back to the police department after a couple of years. The family moved to Custer, South Dakota in 1987, where he attended South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Center in Pierre, South Dakota and was a lieutenant and investigator for the Custer County Sheriff’s Department. In 1989, they moved back to Valdez, Alaska, where Lee worked on the Alaska Pipeline, retiring in 1993. The family retired to Florida and in 1995, purchased the family farm east of Austin and he farmed for 10 years, then it was on to Sierra Vista and Tombstone, Arizona. They returned to Lyle, Minnesota in 2019.

Lee was always a very busy guy who loved to learn. He studied and self-taught himself many things. He was a licensed pilot and loved “flying in the bush” on wheels or floats, fishing from the floats on his airplanes. He spent many hours flying family and friends into the bush to hunt and fish all over Alaska. Lee was an expert marksman. He shot a buffalo in the delta herd that fed five families that winter. His Kodiak brown bear was a nice one that made him proud. Lee was at home in the water and got his Padi card for scuba diving. He took pleasure in diving and dived to the USS Bluegill in Hawaii. Lee also did diving for the police department in Prairie William Sound. Over the years he had many hobbies. He and Ruth built a log cabin in the Wrangell Mountains. He loved music and started several bands. The first was, “Lee and the Trailblazers” and the last was, “Cochise County Line.” He liked to build computers, he did leather work making many things and loved talking to others about his Alaskan adventures.

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Survivors include his wife, Ruth Rathjen of Lyle, Minnesota; daughter, Julie LeAnna (Paul) Feast of Houston, Texas; two sisters, Joyce Blank and Edyna Wayne; Ruth’s siblings, Ella Rudlong, Gladys Davis, David Tebay, and Donald Tebay; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Elmer and Maxine Rathjen; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Everett and Ethel Tebay; three nephews, Peter Blank, Jason Wayne, and Lee Tebay; brothers-in-law, Bruce Blank and Franklin “Sonny” Tebay.

Lee will be missed so much by all his family and the acquired friends along the way. Happy trails, Lee.

A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, at Crane Community Chapel in Austin. Visitation will take place one hour prior to the service on Wednesday. Interment will be in Greenwood Cemetery, Brownsdale, Minnesota. Worlein Funeral Home of Austin is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.worlein.com.