Leland (Lee) Bondhus
Lee Bondhus age 71 of Westbrook passed away Sunday, December 12 at Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD with Harriette by his side.
Funeral services are at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Westbrook.
Visitation is 4:00-7:00 p.m. Friday at the church with a 7:00 p.m. prayer service, and will continue one hour prior to services on Saturday. Interment is in the Westbrook Cemetery. The Westbrook Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
Leland Mark Bondhus was born on April 14, 1939 to Truman and Avis (Marks) Bondhus on a farm in Amo Township. Lee was baptized and confirmed in Amo Lutheran Church. He attended Storden schools and graduated in 1957. On December 27, 1957 Lee married Harriette Nelson at Trinity Lutheran Church in Westbrook. Lee attended South Dakota State University on a full-ride football scholarship. He was co-captain of the 1960 Jackrabbit football team and graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor of Science degree. Lee was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in December of 1960 and spent the summer in training camp under Vince Lombardi before suffering a serious knee injury. He taught school and coached football at Grand Rapids, Michigan for two years. He was hired as assistant football coach at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa in 1964. In 1965 he accepted the head coaching job. Through rebuilding, his 1968 football team won the IIAC Conference Championship and he was named Iowa’s “Coach of the Year”. After spending 9 years coaching, Lee and Harriette purchased a hunting and fishing resort in northern MN. Lee so enjoyed working side by side with Harriette and his two wonderful sons, Mark and Tom. Every day was a good day to Lee and it was made more special if he could go fishing. In 1978 Lee took over as manager of Westbrook Mutual Insurance Company in Storden. He also had Bondhus Insurance Agency. In 1983 he received the NAMIC Merit Award and served as MAFMIC Chairman in 1985. He received NAMIC Service Award and was elected to RAM’s board of directors in 1986. Lee was hired by RAM Mutual Insurance Company in 1987, as President/CEO. He and Harriette moved to Esko, where the home office is found. In 1994 Lee served as chairman of NAMIC. During his 16 years at RAM he served on several national boards and received many awards from the State and National Insurance Associations. Lee retired as President/CEO in 2003 when he and Harriette moved to Grand Rapids and lived there for 5 years. Lee continued on the RAM board until he retired at the age of 70. He was elected to the Rockford Mutual Board of Directors in 2005. Lee and Harriette moved to Westbrook to be closer to family in 2008.
Lee was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and fought a very courageous battle for over 4 years. He touched many people’s lives. Lee’s passion was his family and fishing. He was most content spending quality time on the lake with his family. Watching his children and grandchildren grow and sharing in all of their accomplishments gave him great joy. Lee’s greatest gift to his family was his love.
Lee is survived by his wife Harriette of 53 years; sons Mark (Sarah) of River Falls, WI, and Tom (Nadine) of Roseville; 6 grandchildren: Jessica (Lukas) Arnold of Chippewa Falls, WI, Elizabeth (Aaron) Croes of Cleveland, OH, Karissa of Platteville, WI, Shane of River Falls, WI, Vince and Rhiannon of Roseville; siblings: Wayne (Sharon) of Alexandria, Larry (Lori) of Grand Rapids, and Trudy Lohre of Monticello. He was preceded in death by his parents.