Leroy Keith “Lee” Gutzeit, 83, formerly of Lewiston, Michigan passed away peacefully in his sleep on June 7, 2018. As devastated as we all are by his death, we are rejoicing in his peace and the comfort of knowing Heaven just welcomed our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather into paradise.
Lee was born in Detroit, Michigan to Herbert and Violet Gutzeit in 1934, four years before the greatest year ever according to him, 1938. Lee had, and shared with us all, fond memories of fishing and frying up his catch with his dad, Pop, and his mother’s recipe for green beans and bacon, which has become a Thanksgiving tradition that we still all go for first.
In 1952, he met the love of his life, Bernadine. For 63 years they were together and perpetuated a love and friendship that would permeate generations and inspire us all. He joined the Army in 1954 and earned his parachute badge. After being Honorably discharged, Lee and Bernadine started their family. They had three children, Lawrence “Larry”, Suzanne “Suzi”, and Gregg. Lee was an industrial engineer for GM, where he proudly was almost retired for as long as he worked. During his career, he made the decision to move his family out of the city to their beloved home on Ore Lake. Their children experienced a magical childhood where they made life long friends. Later in life, Lee and Bernie lived on Little Bear Lake, and then made the move to Tee Lake where they enjoyed friends and rides on their pontoon boat.
In October of 2016, Lee hung up his fishing pole, and he and Bernie moved to California full time to be closer to their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Lee always “got a kick” out of how lucky he and Bernie were that their family wanted them closer.
While in California permanently, Lee enjoyed going to the Legion for his one beer, making sawdust in the garage, and spending time with all of his family. He loved to sit under the pergola he helped build with his children and share his stories. Lee could tell a story with the best of them, sometimes the same story, but he would tell them with such enjoyment and a sparkle in his eye that the family would listen like it was the first time. He also became quite the Netflix aficionado.
But with a life like Lee’s, who wouldn’t want to listen to his tales. He and Bernie shared 63 plus years of adventures together. He hunted the forests of Michigan and caught a literal lifetime’s worth of walleye, bluegill and sunfish. They raised a wonderful family and got to watch them grow and see new generations added to the bunch. In addition to his devoted wife, Bernie, Lee leaves behind his daughter and snack supplier, Suzi Thompson, and his son and companion, Larry. His five grandchildren, whom he was so proud of, and three great grandchildren, who he got to be on their welcoming committee for each of their births, will miss him dearly.
We know that Lee was welcomed home by son, Gregg, and all of the other legendary characters of his life story. In the words of Lee, if we are still laughing and sharing funny stories about him in 60 years, then he did something right.
A mass will be celebrated on Friday, June 22, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. at Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Lompoc. A reception will follow at Post 211 American Legion in Lompoc. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you do something nice for a stranger, as Lee never met one, or donate in his honor to the American Legion.