Obituary: Lee Babler

Lee Babler of Maplewood died at Door County Skilled Nursing Facility on Monday, Dec. 24, one month shy of his 88th birthday.

Leland Renson Babler was born at home on the family farm on January 27, 1932 to Raymond and Myrtle (DeKeyser) Babler. Lee graduated from Algoma High School in 1950 and served in the US Army in Korea. He married Mary Jo Knapmiller on July 29, 1961 and together they had five children. He was employed as a truck driver for Door Trucking and Marine Travelift until he took over the family farm in Maplewood. In 1969, he expanded the farm to facilitate a 70-cow dairy. 

Because he never lost his love for driving, in 1990 he purchased his first Motorcoach bus and founded Babler Bus Service Inc., which is still operated today by his family.  Lee and Mary enjoyed many bus trips to different points around the country, especially to Branson, Chicago, and their fun casino tours. They treasure the many friendships they made along the way.  A lot of fun and life-long memories were made on those trips!

Lee is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary, his children, Larry (Darcee), Laurie (Mark) Schlaefer, Paul (Janet), and Tina (Tom) Kastory and his seven grandchildren, Joshua (Haley) and Jacob (fiancé, Tessa) Babler, Allison and Carli Babler, Sarah Schlaefer, and Alec and Elizabeth Kastory.  He was a very proud great-grandpa of Renson Lee Babler, born in February. Lee is further survived by Mary’s sisters Bea Englebert and Diane (Jack) Malchak and their families, as well as the Babler, DeKeyser, Prevost, and Destree cousins and very special “family” members Steve and Ann Bretl and their children Alex, Emily, and Lizzy.  

He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Larry, and son Anthony, as well as his brothers-in-law and sister in-law, Dale Englebert, Jack and Germaine Knapmiller. 

Lee was a member of the Forestville-Maplewood Lions Club, VFW, and American Legion.  He served as president of the Maplewood Sanitary District for 18 years and on the parish council of Holy Name of Mary Church for almost two decades. 

A Mass of Christian Burial will be conducted at 11 am on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 at Holy Name of Mary Church in Maplewood with the Rev. Anthony Birdsall officiating. Burial will be in the church cemetery with military honors. A visitation for family and friends will be at Forbes Funeral Home in Sturgeon Bay on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 from 3-6:30 pm with a prayer service at 6:30 pm. Friends may also call at the church on Saturday from 9:30 am until the time of mass.

The family wants to give a special thank you to the amazing staff at Door County Skilled Nursing Facility, Unity Hospice, and Dr. Kelton Reitz for their compassionate care and kindness shown toward Lee and his family in the last several months.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made toward the Leland Babler Memorial Scholarship Fund for local high school graduate students pursuing the Agricultural and Technical Trades.

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