Lee Evan Berger passed away peacefully on Feb. 20, 2018, at his home after a courageous battle with cancer. He was surrounded by family “as he went to be with the Lord.”
Lee was born Dec. 31, 1940, to Lee “Bud” and Frances Berger, in Helena. He grew up in Helena and graduated from Helena High School in 1959. He went on to attend Montana State University, graduating with a degree in accounting.
It was during high school that Lee met the love of his life, Sharon VanNoy, when Sharon needed a pair of white buck shoes for a high school pep assembly. She introduced herself to Lee, borrowed his shoes and before they knew it these high school sweethearts were married in 1966 in Butte.
Lee enjoyed a very successful career in banking, starting with Union Bank and Trust Company in Helena, then Norwest Bank in Casper, Wyoming, followed by First Interstate Bank system in Great Falls and ultimately retiring in 1997 as president of First Interstate Bank of Kalispell. Following his retirement from banking, Lee purchased Flathead Property Management, fulfilling a lifelong dream of owning his own business. During his career, he supported multiple community causes, notably years as board members for United Way and for Kalispell Regional Medical Center, the pride of his community causes.
Family was always the first priority for Lee. He and Sharon have three wonderful children and six grandchildren, all within a long day’s drive from Kalispell. Papa Lee, as he became known, was always eager to do anything for his kids and grandkids and, just like the grandkids, was never one to sit down and take a break; he was constantly in tow with one or several of them.
Outside of work, Lee was an avid runner as well as a meticulous wood worker. Lee seldom missed an opportunity to take a jog and would spend countless hours in his “shop” where no project was too large, too small, or too complicated for him to take on. At the drop of a hat, Lee would be on the road with tools in hand to assist with any home improvement or repair for family and friends alike. He just requested there be a glass of wine ready for him at the end of the day! Time at home was also special to Lee and Sharon where countless hours were spent working side by side in the yard and Mom’s flower garden.
Lee was an exceptional husband, father, grandfather and friend. He courageously battled cancer, never giving up and never stopped thinking of the well-being of others. He touched many people through his years on this earth. No one more so than Sharon “Meema” and his family. Ask him any day how he was, and his response was always “Outstanding!”
Lee was preceded in death by his parents Bud and Frances, Sharon’s parents Art and Violet VanNoy, sister-in-law Ardie Slaughter and brother-in-law Howard VanNoy.
He is survived by his loving wife Sharon, sons Derek (and Simone) Berger, Buddy (and Janell) Berger, daughter Dacia (and Craig) Prather; and six wonderful grandkids, Blake, Brienne, Spencer, Kamryn, Hagen and Axel.
A celebration of life service will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, March 5, at Buffalo Hill Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial gifts be directed in Lee’s name to Kalispell Regional Medical Center Foundation.
Friends are encouraged to visit the website, www.buffalohillfh.com, to leave notes of condolence. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home is caring for the family.