Brice Fitzgerald Lee Sr.
1935 - 2021
Hood Mortuary - Durango
1261 East Third Avenue
Durango, CO
Memorial service
May, 21 2022
Breen Community Center
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Hesperus rancher, Brice Lee, passed away December 24, 2021, surrounded by his family at Mercy Medical Center after a valiant war with Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma. Brice Fitzgerald Lee Jr. was born January 5, 1935, in Montrose, Colorado to Brice F. Lee Sr. and Edith Forsman Lee. In 1878, Brice's great grandfather E.L. Osborne homesteaded outside of Montrose and was an early pioneer of the area. Grandparents Andy and Anna Forsman were early settlers in Telluride and later homesteaded near Nucla, Colorado. Shortly after Brice's birth, the family moved to the current ranch north of Colona, along the Uncompahgre River. The ranch is currently owned and operated by Brice's nephew Jeff Lee and his family. Brice was proud that Jeff and his family were the third and fourth generations operating the family ranch. Riding his horse daily to school, Brice attended first through eighth grades at Colona School. He was one of two graduates of the final graduating class of the school. He attended and graduated from Montrose High School. Brice furthered his education at Colorado A&M University, majoring in agronomy, and soil science and water conservation, and was a member of its final graduating class before becoming Colorado State University. While attending Colorado A&M, Brice met the love of his life, his future wife, Phyllis Fiebig of Ft. Morgan. They were married in June of 1955. After graduation, they moved to Durango in 1956. Brice was employed by the Soil Conservation Service and Phyllis was hired as the first CSU Extension Home Economist with the Southern Ute Tribe in Ignacio. This move began a lifelong love of Durango, La Plata County, and its people. During this time, Brice was a member of the Army Reserve Unit based in Durango and was proud to serve his country for six years. In 1962, Brice and Phyllis bought the Graden Mill and Elevator. Brice loved providing feed, seed, and supplies to the agricultural community of the Four Corners region, and in return buying wheat, milling it into flour to sell to local businesses and area citizens. After being recruited as a nutritionist and salesman for Ralston Purina livestock nutrition, Brice sold the mill to Farmer's Supply. Brice and Phyllis started their beloved herd of Hereford cattle in 1964 with the purchase of two heifers from the CSU Old Fort herd. That line of Herefords is still the base of Brice's herd today. Brice was a pioneer in beef cattle production testing and was a founding member of the Four Corners Bull Test Association. In 1972, Brice and Phyllis set up their ranch south of Hesperus, and Brice began ranching full time. The ranch incorporates summer and winter ranges that utilize federal, state, and private lands in Colorado and New Mexico. Teaching, encouraging, and mentoring youth and young people was important to both Brice and Phyllis. They were avid supporters of the La Plata County Fair and the La Plata County 4-H program. Brice's desire to be active and involved in the cattle industry led him to be a long-time member of the La Plata County Cattlemen's Association, the Colorado Cattlemen's Association (CCA), the Public Lands Council (PLC), and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA). Brice served as president of the La Plata Co. Cattlemen, CCA, and the PLC. He served several terms as a committee chair with NCBA. Water and water issues in the Four Corners and Colorado were important to Brice. He served on the Animas La Plata Board that ultimately was responsible for the construction of the Nighthorse Dam, providing water to the Southern Ute people and residents of the Dryside. Brice also served on the La Plata Water Conservancy District and while he was president, the Long Hollow Dam Project was built, and formally named the Bobby K. Taylor Dam. Local ditch issues were also central to Brice, and he served on the HH and Townsite ditch boards. Brice served nine years as a gubernatorial appointee on the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission. Brice lived every day with a bright and optimistic outlook. He valued his neighbors and strived to be the best neighbor he could be. Brice proudly kept his rangeland and his cows in excellent condition. Brice was preceded in death by his wife Phyllis, parents Brice F. Lee Sr. and Edith Lee, brother Jim, brother-in-law Jack Anderson, and his grandparents, and mother and father-in-law Fred and Marie (Eisenach) Fiebig. Brice's survivors include daughter and son-in-law Lisa and Chad Pederson, granddaughter Bricelyn, sister and brother-in-law Harriette and Dave Walter, sister Marge Anderson, and sister-in-law Renee Lee. He is also survived by seven nieces and nephews and their families, longtime friend Lynelle Brumley, and a host of wonderful neighbors and friends. Our family would like to thank Dad's fantastic neighbors and friends for being great caretakers of Brice. We are also appreciative of the excellent medical care provided to Dad by the Mercy and San Juan Cardiology, and Mercy Medical ICU Staff. Brice's memorial service is tentatively planned for May 21, 2022, at the Breen Community Center. Burial will take place in the Osborne/Lee family plot at the Cedar Creek Cemetery in Montrose. In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorials be given to the La Plata County Cowbelles, for the Brice & Phyllis Lee Scholarship (c/o Penny Crawford, 1081 CR 121, Hesperus, CO 81326) or the Colorado Cattlemen's Association's "Heading Home" Building Campaign (c/o Terry Fankhauser, 8833 Ralston Road, Arvada, CO 80002).
Published by The Durango Herald on Jan. 6, 2022.
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Memorial service
Breen Community Center
tentatively planned, CO
Funeral services provided by:
Hood Mortuary - Durango
Sponsored by Hood Mortuary - Durango.
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2 Entries
So sorry to hear about Brice. I never had the pleasure to meet him, but spoke several times on the phone concerning his grazing permit.
Barbara Witmore
January 14, 2022
I now live in Mexico but knew Brice through Jim Isgar. Both wonderful workers for water needs of this area. I lost my wife this summer and remember their work God bless them both!!!!
Barney Anderson
January 6, 2022
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