Marcella “Sally” K. Lee, of Litchfield, MN, passed away peacefully at Meeker Memorial Hospital in Litchfield, MN, October 14, 2021, at the age of 95. A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11:00 AM Tuesday, October 26, 2021, at Church of St. Philip in Litchfield. Visitation will be from 9:30-11:00 AM at the church with a Daughters of Isabella Rosary at 10:30 AM. Private family internment will be held at Ripley Cemetery. The service will be livestreamed at johnsonhagglund.com. Blessed be her soul.
Marcella was born March 12, 1926, in Eden Valley, MN, to Anton and Theresia (Bauer) Nohner and baptized in the Catholic Faith. She grew up on a farm south of Eden Valley with her four siblings, attended school there, and in 1947 married Donald Onell of Litchfield. They operated a dairy farm on Lake Minnebelle and were blessed with four children. Donald unexpectantly passed away in 1957. A few years later Marcella married Raymond Lee and they were blessed with two more children. They raised their family on a farm in Greenleaf Township and attended St. Columban Catholic Church until it closed in 1971 when they then attended the Church of St. Philip in Litchfield.
Sally, as neighbors and friends called her, took great pride in handling the organization of a farm household of eight. Every year she planted a large garden, canned foods for the cold Minnesota winters, and taught her children about gardening and cooking “Farm to Table.” While the main farm was a beef cattle operation, in early years there was a separate cow to milk that provided milk and homemade butter for the family, chickens that provided eggs, and a few pigs that provided ham and bacon. Her fried chicken or beef roast were Sunday specialties.
She grew up during the Depression and World War II in the 1940’s with two brothers serving and returning as well as a son serving and returning from Vietnam in the 1960’s. She was always very proud of her family who will continue her legacy.
Life on the Minnesota farm was filled with plenty of laughs, hard work, life lessons and resiliency. Sally especially enjoyed the bounty of seasonal rhubarb and apples, using them to bake recipes that her German mother had passed on to her. Her love for gardening and baking with fresh produce was passed on to her children. She led a very ‘mindful’ life, always being aware to be resourceful and re-use. A sure sign of spring was a local Smelt Fry where she could visit with family, friends, and neighbors.
Once the kids became involved in school activities, Sally got a job at 3M in Hutchinson where she worked for 16 years, retiring at age 62. In 1980, Sally had been widowed for the second time and moved to her next home in Litchfield. After retirement she was actively involved with Church of St. Philip Daughters of Isabella and enjoyed many city events, field trips, and lunch gatherings planned for seniors. She quilted at church, sang in the choir, and volunteered in the kitchen. She never turned down a request to help serve or bring a pan of bars when asked. While she never learned to swim herself, every summer she brought all her children to swim lessons at Lake Minnebelle.
Her travels were regional to visit her children in St. Cloud, Red Wing and Minneapolis. She also traveled to visit children in Texas and New Hampshire. Following retirement, she spent some winters in Arizona with her special friend, Al O’Keefe.
She loved to dance to polka music and danced right up to 2018 when she broke her hip. She will fondly be remembered for rarely missing the 10 o’clock Litchfield news and listening to 5pm polka time on the television-a time not to be disturbed.
She is survived by five children: Doris (Onell) Harding of St. Joseph, MN and husband Mark, Jan (Onell) Ehrlich of Hopkins, MN and husband Ted, Jody (Onell) Cronk of Red Wing, MN, Linda (Lee) Davenport of Trophy Club, TX and husband Will, and Larry Lee and special friend Dawn Hedtke of Litchfield, MN; daughter-in-law Liane Onell of Bartlett, NH; 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren as well as many friends, nieces, and nephews.
Sally was preceded in death by her parents: Anton and Theresia Nohner; sisters: Leona Arnold and Aurelia Ashfeld; brothers: Raymond Nohner and Leander Nohner; husbands: Donald Onell and Raymond Lee; son Daniel Onell of Bartlett, NH; son-in-law Raymond Cronk of Red Wing, MN; special friend Al O’Keefe; 9 sisters-in-law and 10 brothers-in-law.
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