Photography

LeRoy John Hart

February 12, 2024

LeRoy Hart Obituary

LeRoy “Lee” Hart, age 94, was called home to be with the Lord Jesus on February 12, 2024 in Wayzata, MN. Lee is remembered as an educator, artist, dog enthusiast, storyteller, and man of Christian faith who loved his family, friends, and students.

He was born to John and Anne Hart in St. Paul, MN, and baptized at St. Paulus Evangelical Lutheran Church in South St. Paul. Lee’s parents valued education for their son as their own schooling had to be curtailed so they could work. They sent him to Central Lutheran School and Concordia High School in St. Paul where he might have a Christian learning environment. 

Lee attended the University of Minnesota and then transferred to Macalester College. To help finance his college education, Lee worked various odd jobs. These employers included the MN State Fair, Quality Tea Room Cafeteria, and the gas station/garage where his father worked near Macalester College. 

As a college student, Lee first majored in classical piano and then geology. He enjoyed courses in a wide variety of subjects. He finally settled on a major in elementary education which suited his diverse interests. 

Subsequently Lee completed a BS in Elementary Education and MEd in School Administration from Macalester College. He was also certified for the teaching ministry of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) through the teacher colloquy program at Concordia Teachers College, River Forest, IL. 

In the summer before Lee was to begin his first teaching job, he contracted polio and was hospitalized in isolation near a polio patient in an “iron lung” breathing machine. People were dying around him in this epidemic. Lee recovered without paralysis in time to arrive at his new job shortly before school began in September. However, this life-and-death experience contributed to his resolve to devote his life to educating children and instructing them in the Christian faith, a matter of eternal importance. In this vocation he served as a principal and teacher for a total of 39 years at Bethany Lutheran School (K-8) in Chicago, IL; Our Savior Lutheran School (K-6) in Arlington, VA; and Trinity Lutheran School (K-8) in Sheboygan, WI. 

Lee met his future wife Doris on Labor Day when they were both preparing to teach at Bethany. Doris was the new teacher for grades 1-4. The next summer in 1954 Lee and Doris were married at Bethany Lutheran Church. 

As well as serving as school principal, Lee taught grades 5-8 at Bethany and Trinity and grades 5-6 at Our Savior. His favorite subjects included Arts & Crafts, Outdoor Education/Nature Study, and the Bible. A unique feature of his classroom at Our Savior was a little “zoo” of fish, birds, reptiles, small mammals, and honey bees.

In addition to teaching in the classroom, Lee provided invaluable educational opportunities outside the classroom. He led many field trips including tours of museums and cultural sites in Chicago, IL; Washington, DC; and historic Williamsburg, Jamestown, & Yorktown, VA. At Our Savior, he headed a week-long camp of nature study & other outdoor learning in Prince William Forest Park, Triangle, VA. At Trinity, he was a 4-H leader in gardening and formed the “Happy Harvesters” 4-H Club with over 60 participating students. 

In Lee’s service, he helped to oversee Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and children’s Christmas programs. He also video recorded Sunday services at Trinity for the local hospital.

Moreover, Lee was active on numerous committees and boards. He was instrumental in starting the Sheboygan Area Lutheran School Association (SALSA), representing at least four K-8 schools. He also participated on committees/boards for the Sheboygan Area Lutheran High School, which opened in 1978. 

The primary aim of Lee’s work and service was to provide a high quality Christ-centered education for each student. After Lee retired, he often reminisced about his former students and hoped they were doing well in life. He especially appreciated one former student who corresponded over the years. 

In retirement Lee and Doris relocated to Plymouth, MN, to be near their family. Lee treasured times playing games and visiting parks and other attractions with his grandkids. Another special highlight of his retirement was traveling with Doris to explore about 15 countries through many Elderhostel trips. Lee also volunteered at Glory of Christ Lutheran Church in Plymouth. He particularly enjoyed helping to teach Confirmation/Catechism classes. In addition Lee volunteered for the City of Plymouth as an election judge (2010). 

Furthermore, retirement gave Lee an opportunity to spend hours creating pottery & ceramic art made of stoneware or lower-fired raku. His ceramic creation “Rebirth” won an Honorable Mention at the MN State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition (2002), the state’s largest juried art show. He also participated in the Plymouth Art Fair (2012 & 2013). 

Besides being an accomplished potter, Lee was skilled in cutting & polishing stones (lapidary) and creating jewelry. He taught lapidary classes in Arlington and Sheboygan. 

Lee delighted in many other types of handiwork, too. Over the course of his life these pursuits included making model airplanes, taking and developing B&W film photos, tooling intricate designs onto leather, fashioning marionettes, capturing close-up photos of nature with a macro lens, weaving baskets, making glass beads with a “hot head” propane torch, crafting soaps, painting silk scarves, building a camping trailer from a kit, and preparing authentic Chinese cuisine. 

Throughout much of his life, Lee had a canine companion. These dogs included a Fox Terrier, Collie, Brittany, Beagle, “Cockapoo,” Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Shih Tzu, and Rat Terrier. Each dog held a special place in his heart. 

Lee had a remarkably vivid memory and relished telling countless stories from his life experiences. He would tell about boyhood pranks, encounters with bears and moose while wilderness canoeing & camping with his father, working in the Horse Barn and with sanitation at the MN State Fair, metal detecting for buried Civil War relics, and getting lost in the Chesapeake Bay on a foggy night due to a magnetic flashlight mistakenly placed near the fishing boat’s compass! He was especially fond of recounting tales about his maternal grandfather, a resourceful and multi-talented immigrant from Central Europe. Lee continued to surprise his family with new anecdotes from the past, even in his later years. 

Most of all, Lee loved his family and friends. He is survived by his loving wife Doris of 69 years; his daughters Suzanne (Charles), Rebecca (Roger), and Stephanie (Steve); his grandchildren Rachel (Benjamin) and Nathan; his great-grandson; his sister Joan (James); his nephews and nieces; and his cousins, including Douglas, who was a close childhood friend. 

In December 2023, Doris asked Lee, “What is the most important thing in life?” Lee replied, “To know Jesus Christ.” Accordingly, Lee earnestly hoped that everyone he knew would trust completely in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone as God’s provision for forgiveness, salvation, and new life. Then he would greatly rejoice to share the joys and wonder of being together with the Lord Jesus in the life to come. 

 

The family extends special thanks to those with the Folkestone-Gables Care Center and with Optage Hospice who kindly helped to care for Lee and enrich his life in his last years. The family is also deeply grateful for regular visits of the pastors of Glory of Christ and particularly for Rev. Jeremiah Johnson’s timely ministry on February 11, 2024. In addition the family sincerely appreciates the visits and prayers of faithful friends.

 

A memorial service will be held at Glory of Christ Lutheran Church, 4040 County Road 101 North, Plymouth, MN, at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, February 23, 2024, with visitation one hour prior.  

 

 

 

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Services

Visitation
Friday
February 23, 2024

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Glory of Christ Lutheran Church
4040 County Road 101 North
Plymouth, MN 55446

Funeral Service
Friday
February 23, 2024

11:00 AM
Glory of Christ Lutheran Church
4040 County Road 101 North
Plymouth, MN 55446

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