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Arlan Jon Lee

April 22, 2024 | 7 comments

Arlan Jon Lee, 75, of Onalaska passed away on Sunday, April 21, 2024, at home surrounded by loved ones. He was under the care of Mayo Hospice while fighting bravely against metastatic cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer.)

Arlan was born at Grandview Hospital in La Crosse on July 13, 1948, to Llewellyn (Starch) and Beryl Lee and grew up in the Goosetown area of La Crosse. Arlan lived with his mother and older brothers, Ken and Al Jandt. They lived on and off with their maternal grandfather, Adolph Starch, while his mom flipped houses to earn money. Because Arlan’s brothers were a few years older than he was and his mom worked a lot, he spent a lot of time on his own as a child. He talked about how he liked to play “cowboy” and ride his bike along the train tracks (no longer there) by UW-La Crosse to the far south side of La Crosse and back.

As a boy, Arlan had a newspaper delivery route in the Market Street area by the brewery. He used most of the money to take care of his pet carrier pigeons. As a teen, he learned about horses through working at Doc Murphy’s stable.

Arlan graduated from La Crosse Central High School in 1966 and joined the National Guard, serving for six years. He had fun working with his friends at the La Crosse Rubber Mills. He went on to build houses and worked at several factories – Trane, Norplex, Watlow, and Ashley Furniture Industries. With help from his wife and four children, he built their family home in the Briarcliff subdivision in West Salem. 

Arlan and his friend, Ed Evans, co-owned Holmen Saw & Tool Sharpening. Arlan bought out Ed’s share in the mid-1990s and expanded the business to include selling high-end lawnmowers, Stihl and Husqvarna chainsaws, and other related tools. During his time at Holmen Saw & Tool, he and his son Kelly enjoyed giving customers “the business” while doing business. He made lifelong friends through that experience. Arlan sold Holmen Saw & Tool in 2010 and “retired,” which meant he kept busy working on projects for the rest of his life. He built his last house in 2022 shortly before his cancer diagnosis in October.

In his free time, Arlan was passionate about cars and flipped quite a few. His favorite car was the 1963 Corvette split window. He also liked ’67 and ’68 Camaros and tri-five Chevys. One of his memorable projects was from the early 80s when he created a “General Lee” car from “The Dukes of Hazzard” for his kids. A photo of him with the kids and the car was featured in the La Crosse Tribune.

He and his wife shared a love for 1960s music, especially the Beatles, and he was a record collector. His favorite movies and shows were Westerns, especially Clint Eastwood movies and “Shane.” He was a deer hunter and liked spending time in the woods with his sons; it was also a way to feed his family.

Arlan’s faith was very important to him. He was raised in the Assembly of God Church and enjoyed attending Billy Graham’s tent meetings as a young man. His faith was renewed when he was in a serious accident with his motorcycle at 20 years old, hitting a car head-on. Arlan was thrown from his motorcycle, and both the motorcycle and the car were totaled. Arlan was fortunate to escape with fairly minor injuries and a week’s hospital stay.

Arlan married Rebecca (Evenson) on Friday, April 13, 2007, at Rivers Harvest Church in Onalaska. They celebrated their 17thanniversary the weekend before he passed. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was a frugal yet generous man who enjoyed helping people.

Arlan is survived by his wife, Rebecca Lee, and his children from his first marriage: son, Kelly Lee (Julie Ahearn) of Holmen; Dustin (Jennifer) Lee of Toddville, IA; and daughter, Shayna Lee of Holmen. He is further survived by his ten grandchildren: Kelsey (Matt) Neubauer and children, Oaklee and Barrett; Mason Lee; Jenna Lee; Carissa Lee and daughter, Kyla; Lauren Lee (Tyler Carmer) and son, Ezra; Meredith (Braden) Yoder and son, Roman; Lee Braswell; Brianna Nava; Karina Lee; and Kira Lee. He is also survived by his brothers Ken (Nancy) Jandt and Al (Dian) Jandt along with many cherished nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his beloved son, Shawn Lee of El Paso, TX; his parents; and his best friend, Kurt Akright.

Thank you to the doctors, nurses, and medical teams at Mayo Clinic in La Crosse for the excellent care they provided and to Mayo Hospice for helping him stay in his home for the last few weeks, as was his wish. Thanks also to family and friends who kept in touch and visited during his illness. 

A visitation will be held at Rivers Harvest Church, 1001 Quincy Street in Onalaska, on Friday from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday from 10-11 a.m. A Celebration of Arlan’s life will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at the church and followed by lunch.

Memorials are preferred to a church or charity of your choice. Arlan liked flowers, and his favorites were irises and sunflowers. You could honor him by planting some in his memory.



  1. Lisa Scheller

    Thinking of the entire family as you celebrate Arlan’s beautiful life. Please accept my deepest condolences on your loss. I have been, and will continue, praying for peace and comfort during this difficult time. May you find strength in the beautiful memories you shared together.

  2. Shayna Lee

    I love you daddy.

  3. Robert Covey

    I was Arlan’s driver on two occasions taking him to medical appointments this past March. I was immediately drawn to him. Such a kind personable man. His faith in the Good Lord above was evident. I’m thankful I got to meet him.

  4. davis O benson

    RIP Arlan, you were always a joy to be around. I’ll always remember your genuine sincerity you showed for people. Peace to you and your family. Davis the FedEx guy!

  5. Susie

    Will always remember how generous Arlan was to my brother Paulie. We wished we could have seen that smile. Sympathies to you and the family Rebecca..
    Susie…Paulie’s sister

  6. Donna Cooper

    Had tears in my eyes reading his obituary, beautiful writing of a great man. My son and daughter grew up with his children in Briarcliffe, and the memories we had, Arlan helped my husband at the time to build our beautiful home and we actually lived with them while our home was being built. We were a big family and the many blessings and love.
    Those memories will stay in my heart forever ❤️

  7. Chris Lance

    My deepest condolences to the entire family. You are all in my prayers.
    May God bless you with peace and comfort.


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