Leland “Lee” Leroy Grebe, died Jan. 22, 2020, in Ashton, Idaho at the Ashton Living Center of natural causes.
Lee grew up on a homestead farm in South Dakota. His family raised thousands of turkeys over many years. As a young boy, before school, Leland’s chores including delivering milk with his younger sister Elaine in the family’s Model A Ford. When the pair were pulled over by law enforcement, they were told that they should maybe bring one of their parents along with them next time! The farm was a tough life for the Grebe family, but defined Lee throughout his life as an honest, hardworking, thoughtful human that launched him out into the world. It also helped him understand what type of work he might enjoy, and that it had little to do with turkeys.
Leland Leroy Grebe was born April 17, 1932 in Stickney, South Dakota to Frank William Grebe and Florence (Noldner) Grebe. He married Mary Kay (Kathryn) Halloran in 1955 in Lake Andes, SD. Lee and Mary Kay first met as students at the South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City, SD. Lee studied Electrical Engineering and Mary K studied Civil Engineering. They went on to share 64 wondrous years together.
Leland was commissioned Ensign, USNR at the Navy OCS Program in Newport Rhode Island in December 1954. Lee was assigned Airborne CIC Officer with the newly commissioned Navy Airborne Early Warning Squadron, VW11, at Patuxent River, Maryland in August 1955 with two, six-month deployments to Argentia, Newfoundland. In February 1958, Leland completed his assignment in the Navy and the family moved to Endicott, New York where Lee began working for the IBM Military Products Division at their new facility in Owego, New York. In 1971 he became executive manager of Avionic Systems Development and served as both proposal and program manager for LAMPS.
“Having a leadership role in one of the division’s most important programs was the highlight of my career,” said Leland Grebe, IBM Federal Systems Division from 1958 – 1983.
Lee Spent 20 years in Owego before joining the corporate Engineering Programming and Technology staff. He returned to FSD in 1980, serving as technical assistant to the Vice President, Shipboard, Command, and Space Systems. In 1986, he capped off his career with a two year assignment in Paris where he served as deputy director, System Integration, IBM Europe.
He and Mary K loved architecture and it showed in their many beautiful homes which included an earthen home in Virginia and a passive solar home on the side of a mountain in Colorado. One of their favorite ‘homes’ however, was a camper van that they drove around the country visiting family and friends. Life was good when the Happy Camper pulled into your driveway.
Lee loved political debate and encouraged others to listen, learn, and have an opinion. He read many books and maintained an extensive library. Knowledge was power. He wrote his own book with his cousin, Gerald Krutsch, called ‘Homesteading in South Dakota’ documenting their family history.
In his spare time (… !?), Lee had many passions and talents. A love of old cars, repairing and rebuilding a model A Ford in Stickney SD, A TR3 sports car and several beautiful early mustangs. He built furniture, dug and built a swimming pool, took the family camping, rafted the Grand Canyon, he always had a project going. His garage was his domain. He was also a storyteller and if you were quiet you heard about the time he ‘wrestled that bear.’
Leland was preceded in death by his lifelong love Mary K. Grebe and their daughter Celeste (Grebe) Nichols. He is survived by his sister Elaine Boeker of Stickney, SD; three sisters in law, Ellen (Tom) Johnson of Virginia Beach, Va.; and Sarah (Tom) Shaw of Leesburg, Va.; Alice (Wilsey) Halloran of New Baltimore, NY; Four children, Sheilah (Geno Morandi) Grebe of Tetonia, ID, Vincent (Linda Snupik) Grebe of Binghamton, NY, Lorie Grebe and Vorwerk family of Evergreen, CO, and Margaret (Derrik Hufsmith) Grebe of Driggs, ID; five grandchildren, Amelia Hufsmith, Gregory and Stevie Grebe, and Alex and Hunter Nichols, and dozens of adoring nieces, nephews, cousins, and family friends.
Our extended family at the Ashton Living Center are truly in our hearts forever. The love they give makes our hearts swell. Peace. Love. Hugs.
Lee loved to ski and instilled that love in his five children and his grandchildren, a lasting bond that forever holds us together. We kids and grandkids will be gathering at Grand Targhee on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 to take a few runs in memory of Dad. If you see us, join us!
Me: Dad, How’s the skiing today?
“Strange is our situation here on Earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men - above all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends.” ― Albert Einstein
Condolences may be sent online to the family at http://www.baxterfh.com.