Leland “Lee” Norbert Bakken passed away April 25, 2021, at the age of 95.
Leland was born to Albert and Hanna Bakken on January 23, 1926, in Sand Creek, Wis. He was the youngest of nine children of Norwegian immigrants. He spoke only Norwegian until he started to attend school at the age of five.
He graduated from Chetek High School in 1943 and enlisted in the Army from 1946–1948. He returned home to Sand Creek to work on the family dairy farm and purchased the farm in 1952.
The same year, he married Mildred “Millie” (nee Zuncic) and they were married for 66 years before Millie’s death in May 2019.
After having four daughters, Lee and Millie stopped farming in 1969 and moved to Chetek, Wis., where Lee worked as a mechanic. Throughout his time in Northwestern Wisconsin, Lee was an active member of Chetek Lutheran Church and the American Legion. He enjoyed playing softball for his church team, participated in bowling leagues, enjoyed snowmobiling with friends and looked forward to hunting trips to Montana and Wyoming.
In 1976, they ventured to Oshkosh, Wis., to purchase and run a small motel. After selling the business, Lee became a diesel truck mechanic working for Saunders Leasing, and he retired from Bauer Truck in 1991. Retirement didn’t come easy to Lee as he continued to work part-time at various locations in Oshkosh, learning pool maintenance and performing general handyman and maintenance tasks to keep himself busy while Millie continued to work.
You could frequently find Lee chatting up the truck drivers at the local truck stop over a cup of coffee. He was quick to be friendly and share a story. He loved the Brewers and the Packers and could be one of the most vocal armchair quarterbacks around!
Lee and Millie initially retired to Chetek in 1998 to enjoy the beauty of the hills and lakes and to spend time with friends and family there. They returned to Oshkosh in 2005 to be closer to their daughters and grandchildren.
Leland is survived by his daughters, Diane (Jesse) Pedroza, of Lake Station, Ind., Elaine (James) Kratz, of Omro, Wis., Joanne (Jonathan) Patterson, of McKinney, Texas, and Sharon (Shane) Malnory, of Oshkosh; grandchildren, David Kratz, of St. Paul, Minn., Tatum Malnory, of Oshkosh, Ava Patterson, of McKinney, Texas; step-grandsons, Jeremy Pedroza, Nathan Patterson and Benjamin Patterson; and many nieces and nephews.
Leland is preceded in death by his wife, Millie; his parents, Albert and Hanna Bakken; brothers, Arvel (Mabel) Bakken, Norman (Harriet) Bakken, Palmer Bakken, Edwin Bakken; sisters, Cora (Arthur) Anderson, Agnes (Harold) Thorstad, Edna Bakken and Ruby (Elmer) Van Dorston.
A private service will be held, and burial will take place at Riverside Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please consider sending donations to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 1860 Wisconsin St., Oshkosh, Wis.; the American Legion Post #179, Chetek; or the American Heart Association. The family would like to thank all the staff at Parkview Health Center for the love and care they have shown Lee over the last year and a half.