Richard N. Lee of Helper, UT passed away October 26th, 2023, a few weeks after his 88th birthday. Richard had lived on his own since his wife, Marsha Lee, passed away in 2014. Though he could have lived in other locations, closer to his children, and in an environment where many of his daily needs may have been “easier”, his heart and soul were in Carbon County, Utah. During the last few years of his life, his ability to live there was made possible only through the care and support of many friends and neighbors. Their generosity and thoughtfulness enabled him to continue to live in his home of over 50 years – a home he and his wife carefully planned and constructed, in a landscape and environment that reflected their shared sensibilities and aesthetics.
Richard was born in Pueblo, Colorado in 1935. He loved sports and excelled at basketball and tennis. He attended the University of Denver on a tennis scholarship and won a conference championship. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1957. He then joined Bank of America’s executive training program in Los Angeles, California. Denver University is also where he met Marsha, a meeting that led to a marriage and partnership of 55 years.
After a relatively short time at Bank of America, Richard was drafted into the Army. He was proud of his service, but did not discuss it often due to the classified nature of his work at the Defense Atomic Support Agency. After his active service, he was in the Army Reserves for six years. Bank of America wanted Richard to return at the completion of his active service. However, Elbert Lowdermilk, Marsha’s stepfather, intervened and offered him a job as a road construction laborer at H-E Lowdermilk and the opportunity to learn the construction business the “hard way”. Over the course of many years, across many jobs sites, and throughout three states, Richard learned and mastered the business. He was responsible for a large number of complex road construction projects that included interstate highways, roads through difficult and remote mountain environments, answering the call when natural disasters closed important transportation corridors. He also and managed a multitude of other successful construction projects in the energy, mining, railroad and water industries. He was H-E Lowdermilk Company, V.P., and Chairman and President of Elbert Lowdermilk, Inc. and Lowdermilk Rock Products. He also founded several other construction and construction-related businesses. He was proud of his career, and greatly respected the many individuals with whom he worked.
After Richard retired from the construction business, he became involved in a large number of organizations, both private and public. He was Chairman of the Board of the College of Eastern Utah (and was presented the Eagle Award), a board member of Eastern Utah Community Credit Union, Vice Chairman of the Carbon Recreation Transportation Special Service District, on the Board of the Associated General Contractors of Utah, and Member Joppa Lodge Number 26, 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason, El Kalah Shriners.
Water use and water rights were his greatest intellectual interest. Land was a close second. When they were combined, it was the perfect scenario for Richard. He was chairman of the Carbon Water Conservancy District and was presented the Utah Water Users Association Life Service Award “for a lifetime of dedicated service to the organization, the citizens of Utah, and the Utah Water Users Association”. In retirement he also spent many years learning about and developing a ranch in Colorado, and developing property in Utah.
However, any true understanding of Richard’s life must, to a very large degree, begin and end with Marsha. They both complemented and reinforced each other. They shared a commitment to hard work, caring for others, and doing the right thing. They shared passions for art, opera, and western lands and cultures. He loved her deeply. That was never more evident than during the last phase of Marsha’s life. Richard’s steadfast care and devotion was unending and remarkable.
Richard was also a dedicated father and grandfather. He provided a comforting hand at just the right moment, gentle advice as needed, and was a treasured example. Richard made it a personal mission to always find a way to travel out of state to share in his grandchildren’s birthdays.
He is survived by his sons Jon (Dori) Lee and Todd Lee (Brodie Bain), and his daughter Sarah (Charles) Bentz. He also leaves his older sister Virginia Lierz, and four grandchildren, Channing Lee, Drewe Lee, Charlie Bentz and Breck Bentz, and one great grandchild Payton Lee.
A celebration of life will be held December 4th at the Carbon Country Club, UT. Dress is casual. 5:00 pm Greeting and 5:30 Remembrances, followed by a light dinner. The family requests donations be made to a charity of choice in lieu of flowers or gifts.
We will miss him deeply.