According to the Lusk Herald in 1952, Mr. & Mrs. Bill Denny, of Newcastle are the proud parents of a son born Friday, July 18. The young man weighed 6 lbs. 2 oz and will be known as Lee Ray. So Lee was born in 1952 and in the space of a blink he grew up, married, had children, worked jobs and left us too early.
Early in their lives Lee and his siblings began spending summers on Grandfather Ira’s ranch, located on the headwaters of Rawhide Creek in Niobrara County. Lee’s dad worked for Petrolane and his job took his family from Newcastle, WY to Great Falls, MT, Trimble, CT, Texas, and California. Home was the ranch. Grandfather understood the value of a dollar and hard work. He was short on praise but generous with his time. These lessons learned at the ranch would in many ways define Lee’s life. The Denny kids could put up 200 tons of hay using a 1949 John Deere tractor, a 1939 hay rake and a 7-foot sickle. There was a lot of mechanical skill, sweat, and laughter in those neatly aligned stacks. Lee broke horses, enjoyed riding, developed a keen eye for cattle and lost his heart to the ranch forever. He was never truly at home anywhere else.
Lee’s childhood influenced his decision to attend the University of Wyoming and his choice of an Ag Economics major. While there, he gained a reputation for beef judging, meat lab and all things ag. Upon graduating, he landed a job that by most people’s standard was quite a coup. For Lee, at least the bank job was close to the ranch. While working in Lusk, Lee married Alison Taylor. Together they had two children – Lee’s greatest pride – Taylor and Sarah. Banking took Lee from Lusk to Meeteetse, Worland, Shoshoni, Salt Lake, Las Vegas, Evanston, Big Piney and finally back to Lusk. Lee had the highest score on the banker’s test, established a reputation as an astute banker, became a bank president at the age of 28, was a supportive manager, and a loyal friend. Some of these years were also marked with an alcohol addiction which created other challenges that he more often than not surmounted.
Lee divorced and later married Carol Thiel. He welcomed her children Chris and Katie into his family with great joy. After leaving the bank, Lee came home to the ranch. He acquired cows and some good horses. He could name each of the 42 horses he owned in his life. His prize possession was his saddle, purchased in 1976 at a price his grandfather never could understand. This year his donation of a steer to the University of WY Steer A Year Contest won the carcass competition – an unparalleled achievement for a rancher with competitive tendencies.
Lee was human. He loved and laughed. His family – kids first, grandkids, brothers, sister, and their kids – got him up in the morning. He was generous and selfish. He made mistakes and did amazing things. He was loyal and kind and he could carry a grudge. He sponsored “Church in the Park”, “Hunt of a Life-Time”, and contributed to many in Rapport Leadership classes. He loved to cook breakfast and did a mean Bar-BQ. He was an avid Republican. He loved to hunt – especially with grandson Thane. He talked cows with son-in-law Clint but was not really interested in sugar beets. He never knew a stranger. He was a proud Mason, Cowboy Joe Club member, and his Faith in the lord was unwavering. He was loved. While he would not have chosen to say good-bye so soon, he would have chosen this way to say - Until we meet again.
Lee Ray Denny was born July 18, 1952 in Newcastle WY. He is survived by his children Taylor (Reghan) Denny, grandchildren Thane, Carson & Zeke Denny. Sarah (Clint) Lungren grandchildren Owen, Paige & Josie Lungren. Brothers Jay (Beverly), Kent (Brenda) and sister Andrea (Dennis) Heath and numerous nieces & nephews.
He was preceded in death by grandparents Ira & Neva Lamb, and parents William E. and Nina Denny.
The family would appreciate memorials to the Congregational Church PO Box 1106 Lusk WY 82225 or the Masonic Lodge, PO Box 183 Lusk WY 82225. Condolences may be sent to the family at PO Box 555 Lusk WY 82225.
Pier Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Lee Ray Denny, please visit our floral store.
Lusk Congregational Church
PO Box 1106, Lusk WY 82225-1106
Harmony Lodge #24, Masonic Lodge
PO Box 183, Lusk WY 82225-0183