Lee Francis Blanchard, of Madison, WI, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, passed away Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, at Meriter Hospital. He was just one week away from his 77th birthday. But ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, took him too soon.
Lee was born Aug. 30, 1943 in Sioux City, the second child of Clifford and Betty (Betzer) Blanchard. During most of his childhood and teen years, Lee lived in eastern South Dakota, first on a farm where he helped his father care for dairy cows, and then in the community of Parker where Lee played high school sports. He always had an after-school job, and continued all of his life to be a dedicated and hard worker. In high school he started training as an electrician, and continued this career until his retirement. Lee lived and worked in Vermillion for 16 years, then moved to Rapid City, SD, where for 23 years he was head electrician for all Rapid City Area Schools.
In 1963, Lee married Karen Johnson. During their 27-year marriage, they had a son, Scott, and a daughter, Linda. In 1995, Lee married Mary Ann Goode Rochester, who already had three children: Gabrielle, Luther, and Adrienne Rochester.
When anyone met Lee for the first time, he would proudly announce that he had 11 brothers and sisters. They have remained a close and loving family to this day, and now with marriages and new generations, there are 111 in the Blanchard family. Lee loved their frequent reunions. Always fun-loving, Lee was eager to tell folks a joke or riddle, and was often found entertaining his grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He enjoyed spectator sports, golf, hunting, fishing, skiing and nights out dancing with Mary Ann. In recent years, Lee was happiest when taking long drives in the rural countryside, often without a road map, just to see what was there.
Lee was a member of the First Baptist Church in Rapid City and attended Grace Baptist Church when he and Mary Ann moved to Madison, WI in 2017.
Left to miss Lee are his loving wife, Mary Ann; son, Scott (Griselda) Blanchard and children, Gabriela and Isabella; daughter, Linda (Tim) Szymczak and children, Taylor and Mitchell; stepson, Luther Rochester; stepdaughter, Adrienne Rochester; son-in-law, Timothy Philipps and children, Milo and Ava. Also surviving Lee are his 10 siblings, Marcia (Jerry) McGill, Rod (Linda) Blanchard, Cherie (Les) Lunden, Ginny (Pat) Connors, Julie (Lee) Pascoe, Roche (Ilene) Blanchard, Barb (Dwayne) Ice, Joel (Dar) Blanchard, Greg (Diane) Blanchard and Tracy (Steve) Lardinois.
Lee was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Lisa Blanchard; and a stepdaughter Gabrielle Rochester.
Lee loved his family, friends and church families, and we were blessed by his kind heart.
A private service for immediate family only will be held in Wisconsin at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26. You are invited to join the service by live-stream. Find the link at Gunderson Funeral Home, www.gundersonfh.com.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be gifted in Lee’s name to Camp Judson, 12965 Old Hill City Road, Keystone, SD 57751. Lee loved this church camp and its setting in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com.