Bill Lee

Obituary of Bill Lane Lee

THE HONORABLE BILL LEE 1933-2021 Former State Senator Bill Lee, a longtime rancher and Lovington, New Mexico resident passed away on January 26, 2021. Viewing will be held Monday, February 1, 2021 from 1:00 pm until 7:00 pm at Kirby-Ratliff Funeral Home in Lovington New Mexico. Graveside services only will be held Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 1:00 pm at the Lovington Cemetery. Pastors officiating will be Darrell Winter and David Matkins. Bill Lane Lee was born November 19, 1933 to R.D. and Leora Culp Lee, in Lovington, New Mexico. He was the paternal grandson of Dick and Viola Lee and maternal grandson of Baxter and Julia Culp. He was married to the love of his life, Pat Lee, who preceded him in death. They have three children, a son: Lane Lee of Las Vegas, Nevada, a son and son-in-law Randy Lee and Gabriel Romero, of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a daughter and son-in-law, Missy and Bobby Belz, and one granddaughter, Karsen Belz, of Lovington. As a young man, Bill enjoyed spending time on the ranch of his parents, R.D and Leora Lee and on the ranch of his grandparents Dick and Viola Lee. The Lees are a pioneering family of Lea County. Bill grew up in the Lovington area and attended Lovington Schools. During his high school years, he lettered in Junior Varsity Basketball his sophomore and junior years and in Varsity his senior year; he also lettered in Varsity Football his senior year. After his first football game in Brownfield, he was named Outstanding Defensive Lineman in West Texas. Bill was in the Future Farmers of America 1947 - 1951 and served as State FFA Vice-President from 1950 - 1951. Bill was also chosen to attend "Boy's State". He served as President of the Student Council his Senior Year. Bill received the Scholarship Award for the "Most Outstanding Grades" three consecutive years: Sophomore, Junior and Senior. As a result of his academic achievements, he graduated from Lovington High School as Valedictorian of the class of 1951. One of the most significant decisions Bill made during his High School years was to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior at the age of 17. He was baptized at the First Baptist Church of Lovington where, later in life, he would serve as a deacon and eventually chairman of the deacons. He also taught Sunday School. In the fall of 1951, he entered the University of New Mexico where he was accepted into the Naval ROTC program. During his tenure at UNM, he served as President of his college fraternity, Pi Kappa Epsilon and reactivated the college rodeo team. He graduated in 1956 with a Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education and received a commission as Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corp. After attending Officer's Basic Training School and 105 Howitzer Artillery School, he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Bill's dedication to serving his country was exemplified when he was promoted to First Lieutenant. On his Midshipman's Cruise (while still a junior in college) he was selected as Outstanding Midshipman. Bill loved being a Marine, although he rarely spoke of it if he hadn't been a rancher, he would have pursued a life in the Marines - Semper Fi. On October 12, 1961 Bill and his wife, Pat, were united in marriage in Denver City, Texas. They moved to Caprock, New Mexico where Bill ranched. It was there that they began their family. In 1968 they moved from Caprock to their ranch at Buckeye, New Mexico with their three small children—Lane, Missy and Randy. In addition to his love for his wife, his family, ranching, and The Lord, he cared for humanity and dedicated himself to public service. He served on the Lea County Soil and Water Conversation District, the Lea County Fair Board, the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of Lea County, the Executive Board of the College of the Southwest, the New Mexico Junior College Board, the State Personnel Board, and the New Mexico State Highway Commission. Bill was elected to the New Mexico State Senate and served two terms. While in the Senate, he served on the Senate Finance Committee and sponsored and passed numerous pieces of legislation vital to his local area and the State—including several tax-relief measures. Of particular interest to the Permian Basin, he introduced and passed legislation creating the Petroleum Recovery Center at New Mexico Tech. The center was on the cutting edge of developing CO2 technology which impacted recovery for the entire State of New Mexico. He identified the Famaris refinery as a potential source of income to the City of Lovington. The refinery was selling jet fuel and the county was receiving gross receipts until he introduced the legislation to allow municipalities to collect gross receipt tax on property that was not connected to the city limits, this resulted in a yearly revenue stream for the City of Lovington. One of his "proudest" accomplishments was the Lovington Hospital District legislation. He worked diligently on the legislation needed to establish a taxing district and create the Hospital District Act that allowed localities to create a district to generate a tax fund— primarily from property taxes— which would support the hospital. He continued to support the hospital throughout the years and was honored to have been a part of Nor-Lea Hospital. Favorite Memories from the Children Dad was a TRUE rancher; he loved every aspect of ranching. He would wake up early each morning, brew a pot of coffee, and about 6:00 am, EVER DAY of their married life, would bring a cup to mom in bed. He would sit beside her on the edge of the bed, and they would just sit there together and talk, or not talk… but just be with each other in the quiet of the morning. Then, he would put on a pair of starched jeans and shirt with boots and his day would begin. Whether his day consisted of being on horseback – his favorite was Nate a dun Quarter Horse, or feeding cattle, building fence, checking the waterings or on the moisture that the evening may have brought. He relished everything about the ranch and the renewal of life – the birth of a new calf, birth of a new foal he was always in awe of a new life – especially during the birthing season of antelopes that run wild on the ranch; he would go out to view and count the number of new antelope calves. He loved to "neighbor" – that is when local ranchers all came together to help each other to gather, brand and ship cattle. He was there for whatever a neighboring rancher needed. Dad never made the transition into the computer era – but he always carried his "software" which was a pocket size spiral notepad, where he kept all of his numbers and pertinent "data" such as kid's birthdays, number of cattle, yearlings and number of bulls, in each pasture, etc. After the kids moved away, we called home and basically spoke to mom to give updates. After mom passed – he spoke to each kid daily. He loved listening to old county and gospel music and introduced it to his granddaughter who quickly acquired the same love for it that he did. Also, around this time, another love came into his life, and that was his dog and constant copanion "FAITH". The family requests that in lieu of flowers, Memorial Contributions be made to one of the following in Bill's name. Cowboy Junction Church, Hobbs, New Mexico Fellowship of Believers, Hobbs, New Mexico Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame, Hobbs, New Mexico Nor-Lea Hospital District Foundation, Lovington, New Mexico Or the charity of your choice. Condolences may be sent to www.kirbysmithrogers.com.
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Monday
1
February

Visitation at Funeral Home

1:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Monday, February 1, 2021
Kirby-Ratliff Funeral Home
1106 N Main
Lovington, New Mexico, United States
Tuesday
2
February

Graveside Service

1:00 pm
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Lovington Cemetery
600 West Gum
Lovington, New Mexico, United States
Tuesday
2
February

Final Resting Place

1:00 pm
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Lovngton Cemetery
600 West Gum
Lovington, New Mexico, United States
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