Betty Lee

Betty Mae (nee Hall, Alf) Lee, age 95, of Woodville, Wisconsin, passed away peacefully of heart failure on Thursday, November 4, 2021, at the Park View Nursing Home in Woodville. Betty was born on September 10, 1926 in Menomonie, WI to Earnest and Verna (Price) Hall. She grew up in Superior, WI and started singing at the age of 5 years old, a talent that she practiced all her life. Betty was united in marriage to Kenneth Alf after World War II, and this marriage was blessed with three children, Kenneth “Kip”, Kristine, and Kathy. Tragically, Kenneth was killed in 1953 in an accident at Dairyland Power in Baldwin. Later, Betty married Roland Lee, and though this marriage would end in divorce, she was blessed with two more children, Robin and Rickey. Betty later met Leroy “Duke” Larson who became her life partner until his death in 2017 due to cancer.

At the age of 15, Betty started her professional music career when she was hired by WEBC radio in Duluth, MN. She was noticed by KMSP channel 9 in Minneapolis, MN and got to work with Country singer Chuck Carson, and performed at the famous Flame Café in Minneapolis. In 1959, Betty was the star of her own show “The Country Jamboree with Betty Lee” at WEAU, channel 13 in Eau Claire, WI. She was invited to tour with the Grand Ole Opry across the country, and made many guest appearances on television programs while working with and meeting famous country artists like Mel Tillis, Johnny Rodriguez, Billy Walker, and Conway Twitty. Betty always thanked God for the success and opportunities she had, and said, “I will sing as long as the good Lord allows me to.” She opened for Tonya Tucker and other artists at the LCO Casino in Hayward, WI, performed at Midwest Country Music Theater in Sandstone, MN, was invited by Terry Bethel to sing at the Baldknobber Theater in Branson, MI, sang background vocals for Dave Dudley, and was given support from Dick Driscoll from Mystery Ranch Studios. Betty was also called by Jack Beasley owner of KLPR, channel 14 in Oklahoma City, OK to she if she would host the Oklahoma Today Show, but she turned down the job to raise her five children. Among her musical peers, Betty was awarded “Best Female Vocalist of the Year” and also recognized with a Lifetime Achievement award by the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame in 2004. A famous quote of Betty’s “If you’re going to sit around and do nothing, all that’s going to happen for sure is that you’re going to grow old.”

Betty will remain in the hearts of her children, Kenneth “Kip” Lee, Kristine (Dennis) Hillstead, Kathy (Bud) Gunderson, Robin Bazille, and Rickey (Donna) Lee; grandchildren, David (Michelle) Lee, Danny Lee, Angie Lee, Nathan (Amber) Lee; Kerry (Dan) Weiske, Jeff (Lori) Hillstead, Michelle (Luke) Oldenburg, Rebekah (Nick) Anderson, Rachel (Corey) White; Dustin (Holly) Gunderson, Jackie (Brandon) Lee, Cheri (Caleb) Snyder, Jeremiah (Kelsi) Gunderson, April Peterson, Bridget (Jon) Gooding, Brandi Lee (Adam) Brandon Lee, Byran Lee; great-grandchildren, Rachael, Stephanie, Dawson, Leah, Stephanie, Joshua, Ethan, Anna, Isaac, Grace, Kaden, Wyatt, Westen, Chase, Lilly, Cassie, Carson, Gage, Canaan, Lennox, Taylor, Dylan, Ronan, Cora, Ellie, Olive; Kyle, Kayla, Kody, and Kaitlyn; great-great-grandchildren, Vivian, Addie, Kinsley, Jade, Ava, Jaxson, and Miles; half-sister, Kay Hall Summerfield; all of her resident and staff friends at the Park View Home; her talented medical care providers, Dr. Carrie Nelson, Dr. Thomas Field, and Betty’s P.A., Andrea; and good friends, Jay and Sherry Moore, Tony Govin, Linda Lee, Buffalo Ridge Band, and Midwest Country Band.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth Alf; grandparents, Caroline and Gustof Price; mother, Verna (Oscar) Hake; father, Ernest Hall; aunts and uncles, Marie (Grant) Bakken, Loretta (Paul) Theurer, George (Gert) Price; ex-husband, Roland Lee; very special friend and partner, Leroy “Duke” Larson; son-in-law, David Bazille; granddaughter, Jodi Couteck; grandson, Paul Bazille; and great-granddaughter, Kelsey Lee.

A celebration of Betty’s life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 13th at the O’Connell Family Funeral Home in Baldwin. Gathering of family and friends will be held from 9:30-11:00 a.m. prior to the service at the funeral home. Interment at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Menomonie, WI.

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