LEES, Melville Francis


November 20, 1922 to August 18, 2020 ~ Celebrating a life well-lived, we regret to announce the passing of our father, Mel Lees, from natural causes on August 18, 2020 with his family by his side. Dad was 3 months short of celebrating his 98th birthday.

Born in Blind River to the late Arthur (d.1986) and Eva (Pickens) Lees (d.1924), Dad was one of five brothers (Eli, Douglas, George (stillborn), Melville and Boyter). With the marriage of Arthur and Mary (Fitzgerald) Lees (in 1932), five more siblings were added to the family (Robert, Eva, Olive, Randolph and Edith).

Dad enlisted in the RCAF during WW11. After his Tail Gunner Training Course at Trenton Air Base, he deployed overseas (England), flying Lancaster bombing missions. He joined brothers Douglas, also enlisted in the RCAF (KIA April 1944) and Eli, serving in the Canadian Army (KIA July 1944).After finishing his tour of military service, he returned home to Canada in 1945.

Dad married our Mom, Faye (Wamsley) on June 12, 1947. They were part of the Blind River community for 63 years.

Dad completed a Jewellery Course in Toronto and returned to Blind River, establishing “Lees Jewellery and China” which he operated until his retirement in 1985.

Retirement meant more time to spend at the family cottage on Lake Matinenda. Our family always looked forward to cottage life and so did his two granddaughters who spent many summers with their grandparents at the Lake. A lifetime of happy memories was created at the cottage, both individually and as a family.

Acquiring a son-in-law who loved to fish resulted in a new hobby for Dad. The two spent many hours on the water. Great fish dinners, friendly rivalries and even better fishing stories were added to our book of memories of times spent together.

To the amazement of some family members, Dad had quite a “green thumb”. Spring brought forth vegetable garden planning and planting. He spent many hours tending his garden and when the harvest was ready, distributing the fruits of his labour to neighbours on Lawton Street, as well as American summer cottage friends that he got to know over the years in his business or at Lake Matinenda

Dad was a Life Member of Penewobikong Masonic Lodge in Blind River. Strong bonds and life-long friendships were forged with fellow masons during their work over many years. His association with the Lodge and its values was an integral part of his daily life.

In 2010, Mom and Dad re-located to an assisted living facility in Sault Ste Marie. After Mom’s death, Dad moved to North Bay to be closer to his children.

Dad was predeceased by his wife of 68 years, Faye (d. 2015), and all of his siblings and their spouses except two. He is survived by his three children and two granddaughters: Bonnie (Tabe) deVries, Laurel (Dario) Rocca, and Brent (Patricia) Lees. He was the loving grandfather of Addie (David) Wasserman and best Opa of Nellie (Alan) Costic. He is also survived by his sisters, Olive Nyberg and Edith (Wes) Pedersen, as well as many nieces and nephews.

We are blessed and are thankful to have had such wonderful parents who gave us the opportunity to become who we are today – we will always remember and treasure them and the priceless gifts that they bestowed upon us – their children.

Friends may visit Arthur Funeral Home – Barton & Kiteley Chapel (492 Wellington St. E. 705-759-2522) on Thursday, August 27, 2020 from 10 am – 10:45 am. Funeral service to follow in the chapel at 11 am. Maximum 40 guests and masks are mandatory. Mrs. Helen Smith officiating. Interment at Maple Leaf Cemetery, Echo Bay with a Masonic Lodge service.

If desired memorial contributions can be made (payable by cheque or online) to the Salvation Army or a charity of your choice would be appreciated.

Please visit Arthur Funeral Home website obituaries to leave memories and condolences as a keepsake for the family.