Benjamin “Lee” Gustafson was born on May 7, 1939 to Ben and Mary Eva (Kennedy) Gustafson at home in Kerkhoven, MN. He and his family lived in Murdock, MN until 1951 when they moved to Thief River Falls, MN. Lee attended school at Murdock Public School, St. Bernard’s School in Thief River Falls, and graduated from Lincoln High School in Thief River Falls in 1957.
Lee joined the National Guard in October of 1956, during his senior year of high school. In 1981, he retired from the National Guard with the rank of 1st Sargent. Lee spent 25 years working for the National Guard, 15 years as a dispatcher for Polk County, and 14 years at Crookston Implement (John Deere). Lee retired in 2014 at the age of 75 years old. Lee was a Past Exalted Ruler of the Crookston Elks in 1975 and a two-year Commander of American Legion Post 20 in Crookston. Lee enjoyed collecting John Deere and Nascar trucks and tractors, golfing, and having coffee/meals with his many friends at RBJ’s restaurant. He especially loved spending time with his family and considered all his nieces and nephews and their families his “kids.” We will all miss him dearly.
Lee is survived by brothers, Tom Gustafson of Thief River Falls, Gary (Marlys) Gustafson of Roseau; 11 nieces and nephews, Marci (Tom Gallus) Lull, Vicki (David) Gustafson-DeKoeyer, Kathi (Scott) Sorter, Cory (Dawn) Gustafson, Steven (Anne) Fisher, Molly (Blaine) Dahlin, Patrick Fisher, Michael (Leslie) Fisher, Jeanie (Darrell) Thomas, Nathan (Heidi Thole) Gustafson, and Nikki Gustafson; 21 great nieces and nephews; and 7 great great nieces and nephews; and many cousins and friends.
Lee passed away on Thursday, April 14, 2016; at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, ND, with his brother, Tom, by his side and knowing he had the love of his family and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents: Benjamin Gustafson, Mary Eva (Kennedy) Gustafson; sister, Beverly Fisher; brother, John (Jack) Gustafson; sisters-in-law, Beverly Gustafson and Mary Gustafson; and brother-in-law, Jim Fisher.
Services will be held at Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home in Crookston on Wednesday, April 20, at 2:00 p.m. Interment to follow at St. Bernard’s Cemetery, Thief River Falls.