Cover photo for Ward Ellis Lee's Obituary

Ward Ellis Lee

September 23, 1933 — January 31, 2023

Durango, Colorado

Ward Ellis Lee

Ward Ellis Lee, born September 23rd, 1933 to George Ellis and Gladys Abigail Lee, pioneers of Durango, died peacefully surrounded by family on January 31, 2023.

He grew up in Animas City and loved to camp on Animas Mountain at a young age. He developed Sepsis at the early of 7 and the doctor told his parents that he needed to run it out. He soon moved to Marvel with his grandparents Annie and Fred Barlow and one day Lawrence Huntington invited him to come play baseball on a dirt field. He fell in love with the game immediately. When he moved back to Durango, Ward often walked to the ballpark located at the current site of TBK Bank in the morning and stayed all day so he could play pick-up games and walk home at night. His love of the game followed him through High School to Mesa State College and Colorado State College. He often said the game of baseball saved his life.

He met the love of his life Rita Gallavan as freshmen at Durango High School. They were inseparable from the day they met and they were married December 20th, 1952. They were truly soulmates and each other’s true loves. This past December, they would have been married for 70 years.

Ward and Rita had 5 daughters. When Ward was at Colorado State College, his team went to the College World Series in Omaha Nebraska. He was drafted by the Phillies but gave up his dream to return to Durango to his love Rita and his 3 daughters at that time. He would then continue his love of baseball by coaching it, and the game of life, which he did for over 40 years. During this time Ward taught at Miller Jr High School, World Geography, Colorado History, and Environmental Living (Including Hunter Safety).

Ward started a victory garden during WWII with the help of his grandparents and became a Master Gardener. Every year since growing a huge garden and canning the entire harvest. He loved hunting, fishing, and mining for gold. He was a special man with an uncanny ability to teach a lesson. Ball players and students would come by, call the house, or see him in downtown Durango and let him know how much that he influenced their life. He left a legacy larger than life and we are all proud to call him our dad and papa.

Ward was preceded in death by his parents George and Gladys Lee, his wife Rita Lee, daughter Virginia A. Tardy, grandparents Fred and Annie Barlow, sister Virginia A. Luzar, and brother Wayne Lee.

He is survived by children: Rita Wardine Lee, Durango CO, Cynthia Marie Compton (Dennis), Grand Junction CO, Lisa Lee Pearce (Gary), Flagstaff AZ, Karen A Lee-Fischbach (Wes), Roseville CA; Son-In-Law: Jim Tardy, Omaha NE; Grandchildren: Benjamin George Compton (Natalie), Grand Junction CO, Eleanor Marie Schrader (Matthew), Omaha NE, James Christopher Tardy (Sarah), Omaha NE, Christopher Ellis Compton (Kristi), Fort Worth TX, Casey Lee Fischbach, San Diego CA; Great-grandchildren: Emery James Tardy, Amalia Paul Schrader, Annie Louise Tardy, Liam Ray Compton, Austin Lee Compton, and Cole Lee Compton; Sister-In-Law, Carol Lee, as well as many extended family members.

A Rosary will be held on Friday, February 10, 2023 at 7:00pm at St Columba Catholic Church, 1800 E. 2nd Ave., Durango. On Saturday, February 11, 2023: A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 1:00pm, with burial to follow Mass at Greenmount Cemetery and his family will have an informal “meet & greet” from 3:00-5:30pm at the Durango Community Recreation Center, adjacent to the Ward Lee baseball field. For those unable to attend services on Saturday, there will be streaming available at  tinyurl.com/columbatube

His family is also planning to hold a “Celebration of Life” for Lee at the Ward Lee baseball field sometime this summer.

 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ward Ellis Lee, please visit our flower store.
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Upcoming Services

Celebration of Life

Service will be held at a future date

Ward Lee Field, Durango CO

Durango CO, Durango, CO 81301

A Celebration of Ward's Life will be held at Ward Lee Field at a later date - family will be working on a suitable time

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Past Services

Recitation of the Rosary

Friday, February 10, 2023

7:00 - 8:00 pm (Mountain time)

St. Columba Catholic Church

1802 E 2nd Ave, Durango, CO 81301

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Mass of Christian Burial

Saturday, February 11, 2023

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Mountain time)

St. Columba Catholic Church

1802 E 2nd Ave, Durango, CO 81301

Livestream

Click to watch

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Graveside Service

Saturday, February 11, 2023

2:00 - 2:15 pm (Mountain time)

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Meet and Greet

Saturday, February 11, 2023

3:00 - 5:30 pm (Mountain time)

Durango Community Recreation Center

2700 Main Ave, Durango, CO 81301

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