Lee Ode, 94

Lee Wayne Ode, 94, died Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020, in Brandon, S.D., after a long and productive life as a farmer, husband and father.

He was born on March 25, 1926, in Sioux Falls to Wilhelm and Claudina (Lee) Ode, and grew up on a farm west of Brandon on what now is Six Mile Road. A graduate of Brandon High School, he was married in 1951 to Ihla Mae Torkelson at Beaver Valley Lutheran Church. They immediately moved to Laguna Beach, Calif, where he served in the U.S. Marine Corps for two years. After considering a career in architecture, he returned to South Dakota to farm with his father and brothers.

Lee always was an innovative farmer. A 1977 article in Dairy Herd Management featured the Odes as among the first to shift from harvesting hay in bales to compressing it into large stacks to preserve its nutrients. A milking system installed in the early 1960s was considered state-of-the-art. In the 1980s, he and his son, Lee Steven, converted some of their acreage near Sherman, S.D., to raise organic soybeans for the tofu market in Japan.

Lee was active in various farm organizations such as the Farm Bureau and was a longtime board member of the Split Rock Telephone Cooperative based in Garretson.

Lee loved the give-and-take of good conversation, and invariably was among the last to get to his car after any event. He treasured summer family vacations to the cool heights of the Black Hills, often arranged within 24 hours, depending on the alfalfa harvest. Through the telephone board conventions, he and Ihla loved exploring cities across the country.  

As a father, he guided each of his kids through their years in 4-H, teaching the importance of treating animals with respect and following through on hard work. He loved to share what he saw as he farmed, like a new beaver dam across a creek. Family vacations invariably included going as far down an intriguing dirt road until it became a path, then a mere suggestion, just to see where it led.

Singing was an important part of Lee’s life. He sang tenor for decades in the Brandon Lutheran Church choir, and especially loved his years of singing the close harmonies of the Sioux Emperians Barbershop Chorus.

In 1991, he realized his dream of helping design and build his own house on an acreage south of his childhood farm place. Working with family, he built much of the home, noted for its expansive views to the east.

Eventually, he and Ihla moved to a twin home in the Bethany Meadows community east of Brandon, built on land he once farmed. They later moved into an apartment there, and after Ihla’s death in August 2018, Lee moved into the skilled care wing, where he lived until his death. Many thanks to all who provided him with such good care — and cookies! — in his last years.

He is survived by his children, Kim Ode (John Danicic), Edina, Minn., Leslee (Bruce) Duncan, Sioux Falls, and Lee Steven (Nancy) Ode, Sherman; six grandchildren, Austin Danicic (Anna Zajicek), Andrew (Jessamyn) Ode, Laurel (Alois) Vogl, Becky (Tom) Crouse; Mimi Danicic (Kyle Sogard), and Erica (Grady) Wirth, and two great-grandchildren, Desmond Ode and Lukas Vogl; and siblings, Ramona Watson, Bob (Marilyn) Ode and Ray (Bonnie) Ode, all of Brandon.

As we celebrate our dad, we respect the health of our friends and family; no formal services will be held. A private committal will follow at a later date.

Memorials may be directed to Meals on Wheels or Brandon Lutheran Church media ministry, via Lee Ode, 24877 485th Ave., Sherman, S.D., 57030. An online guestbook is available at georgeboom.com.


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