On Tuesday, November 26, 2019 Leroy (Lee) James Sturgeon, loving husband, father, and devoted member of the working class, passed away at age 77. With help, he defeated cancer of three types on four occasions, and survived many more years after those victories.
Lee was born on August 21, 1942 in Sioux City, IA to Thelma Sofea Bower and Ralph Westley Sturgeon. Lee enjoyed the benefits of public education in Sioux City, following which he served in the USMC Reserve and worked in local factories in Sioux City, He helped organize a union at Sioux City Foundry and after he and the other workers had to strike to get fair terms, he found his career choice and set out to become a labor lawyer. While working full time night shift jobs at local factories, he first studied at Morningside College and then Briar Cliff University to eventually receive a bachelors degree in political science in 1974. It was during this time that he found his real passion for the working class, whose children were being conscripted to be sent overseas to kill and be killed in an illegal war. He was one of the leaders of the anti-war movement in 1968 that led students on strike at Morningside College, marched on the federal building downtown, and traveled to other protests attempting to stop the killing and dying. Meanwhile he continued working at various unionized factories to pay his way through school. Lee held a deep-seated belief that the vulnerable needed a champion and he set out to be just that. He went on to receive a law degree from Drake University in 1976 and passed the Iowa bar in January 1977. He worked in the fields of union law, social security disability, and bankruptcy for many years. After leaving his lawyer career, he worked as a paralegal for the Carter Law Firm for 27 years.
Lee met THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE, Dale Lynn Sturgeon and they were married on February 17, 1988. They had a son together, Cash Allen Sturgeon, born November 16, 1990, and he helped raise Dale’s previous children, Skylynn Lee (Sturgeon) Whitsel, and Alyssa Marie Bahmer. Lee and Dale had another son, Wyatt Martell whom they decided to give up to a family who could not have children.
Lee’s passion was the working class of the world, politics, and God. He was a modern-day philosopher. You couldn’t spend 5 minutes with him without having a deep conversation. He and his wife Dale were also extremely active walking miles a day and playing hours of tennis. He was known to hit a mean ace, but also to have his fair share of double faults after which he would say “live by the serve, die by the serve.” Lee competed in the Iowa Senior Olympics and the Florida Senior Olympics as well as completing RAGBRAI twice, once at the age of 45, and again at the age of 76, just over a year before his passing. Within his family Lee was best known for his wisdom and depth as well as for his sacrificial and unconditional love of his wife.
The more recent and unknown story of Lee is that while he lived his life fighting for the poor and vulnerable he just recently found a savior of his own in Jesus Christ. Lee had been saved first at the age of 12, and then the world of knowledge overcame the spiritual and sent him on a search for God. He proclaimed his renewed faith to God, his wife and children. Like us all, he had been on a faith journey his entire life and we praise God that he met and accepted the only one who can give rest to his soul.
Lee was preceded in death by his father, Ralph, his mother, Thelma, his elder brother Richard (Dick) and his elder sister from Ralph’s prior marriage, Belva Jean Pridie.
On Earth, Lee is survived by his wife Dale, his four children, Alyssa, Skylynn, Cash, and Wyatt, his grandchildren Maria, Julian, Aracelie, Jesus, Junior, Aiden, Ezra, Elena, Judah, Everlea, and Selah, his brothers Marlin and John, and his sister Thelma (Kay). Lee’s physical body has been cremated and no funeral service will be held. In lieu of flowers, please do something nice for someone today.