Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Loziene Julius Lee (1907-1999)

Loziene Julius Lee, from the 1968-69 Minnesota Legislative Manual.

    A six-term member of the Minnesota State House of Representatives, Loziene Julius "L.J." Lee was for over fifty years a prominent political and community leader in Clearwater County, Minnesota, being a telephone company executive and member of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents in addition to his legislative service.
   The son of Christian Ole and Minnesota Billings Lee, Loziene Julius Lee was born on March 18, 1907 in Glenwood, Minnesota. The origins behind his unusual first name are unknown, and judging by the number of documents that record Lee by the initials "L.J.", one can wonder if Lee had difficulty explaining what those initials stood for! The owner of a Glenwood base meat market, Christian Ole Lee removed with his family to  Gonvick, Minnesota in 1914 and young L.J. Lee would attend school in the neighboring town of Berner.
   In addition to work on the family farm in the 1920s, Lee traveled widely during his youth, working in North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan. After a short stint working at the Packard Motor Co. of Detroit, L.J. Lee joined his brother Ralph in the latter's steam shovel operation, where he worked as a fireman. For many years afterward Lee continued in this line of work, operating heavy equipment throughout the United States.  On June 3, 1934 Lee married in Clearbrook, Minnesota to Ferol Anderson (1907-1998), with whom he would have two children, Catherine and John.
  Following his marriage, L.J. continued work as a heavy equipment operator, and from 1940-45 was stationed in Greenland, helping to build an American air force base. For a time Lee was also employed in Great Britain, where he installed "heavy equipment in coal mines." After returning to Minnesota Lee became affiliated with the International Union of Operating Engineers (Local 39) and in 1948 was elected as that union's representative. He would serve in that capacity until his retirement in 1968, and for a time was connected with the Minnesota Federation of Labor, being the 9th Congressional district vice president for that group.
   A prominent figure in the early years of the Democratic Farmer Labor Party in Minnesota, L.J. Lee was the first chairman of the Clearwater County DFL. In 1952 he was chosen chairman of that party's convention that met in St. Paul and in that same year was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention held in Chicago. Lee continued his rise in local politics in 1958 when he was elected as a Clearwater County commissioner and in June 1960 announced his candidacy for the Minnesota State House of Representatives from the 65th district.
  Lee's candidacy was profiled in the June 30, 1960 edition of the Thief River Falls Times, which notes that:
" In his filing statement Lee said that he feels that his experience gained on the village council and the county  board, he could ably represent the people of thr 65th district. He finished with the statement that he would make every effort to continue the voting record of Walter Day (the 65th district's representative for nearly 40 years.)
  In the September 1960 primary Lee and fellow 65th district candidate Ben Wichterman (1923-1966) were victorious, and in the general election that November both were elected to the legislature, with Lee himself polling 5.872 votes.

                                          A Lee campaign notice from the Nov. 3, 1960 Thief River Falls Times.

   Taking his seat in January 1961, Lee served on five house committees during his first term, those being Agriculture; Drainage and Soil Conservation; Forestry and Public Domain; Motor Vehicles and Apportionment. A successful candidate for reelection in 1963, Lee would serve four more terms in the house between 1965 and 1972, serving on several different committees during those terms, including: Appropriations; Dairy Products and Livestock; Game and Fish; Insurance; the Judiciary; Law Enforcement and Juvenile Delinquency; Local Government; National Resources and Regulated Industries. In addition to serving on the above-mentioned committees, Lee was selected as assistant house minority leader, holding that post during the 1969-70 and 1971-72 house sessions.
   After serving twelve years in the legislature L.J. Lee announced he wouldn't be seeking a seventh term, his last day in office occurring on January 1, 1973. During his last year in the legislature, Lee was selected by then Governor Wendell Anderson to fill a vacancy on the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents. Lee was later elected to a term of his own on that Board, his term extending from 1972-79. 

Loziene Julius Lee, from the 1976 Trojan Yearbook.

    Active in local business both during and after his legislative service,  L.J. Lee was elected as a member of the Garden Valley Telephone Company Board of Directors in 1970. Five years later he became the president/chairman of that board, continuing in that office until his retirement in 1992. In the early 1980s, Lee returned to political life when he began service as Mayor of the city of Bagley, having been a resident there since 1939.  
  After many years of prominence at both the local and state level, Loziene Julius Lee died of heart failure on May 9, 1999 at the Clearwater County Memorial Hospital in Bagley. He had celebrated his 92nd birthday a few weeks previously and had survived Ferol (his wife of sixty five years) by less than a year. Both Loziene and Ferol were interred at the Bagley Cemetery following their deaths.


  1. Dear Andy; Thank you for this fantastic article. Could you please correct the spelling of my grandmother's name. Her name was Ferol.

    Thank you very much, Bonnie Lee.

  2. and please note that their daughters name ia Cathy, not Susan. Thank you. Darin Lee