Arline Florence (Plettner) Lee
Lee, Arline Arline Florence (Plettner) Lee died peacefully on September 18th at the Sunrise Senior Living Center in Golden Valley. She was comforted by her son, Steven Lee, and her daughter-in-law, Angela Lee. Son Scott Lee and his wife Geraldine Mooney were able to speak their love to her over the phone before she passed. Born on May 4, 1921, in Newport, Kentucky, she had seen a long and successful life. Having moved from Newport with her father, Clifford Plettner, mother, Florence (Engel) Plettner, and brother, Stuart to Evanston, Illinois, in 1933, she later attended Evanston High School, where she met her future husband, Joseph E. Lee. They were married after the war in 1947. After her parents divorced in 1939, her mother came to live with Arline, and she helped support Florence until 1954 when, her support no longer needed, she left Chicago with her growing family for southwest Minneapolis. Arline Lee will be remembered by her family and the many friends of her family, first and foremost for her love of her family. Together with her husband, she built a protective, nurturing and cultivated home for her sons. Scott remembers his mother entering Mrs. R's second grade classroom one afternoon for a parent-teacher discussion. His mother's face is one of determination, for she is going to defend him - a child given to that most fatal of second grade flaws - one who, in the parlance of report cards, "talks too much." When she emerges from the classroom, she is not frowning, nor is she smiling, she is pleased. She assures Scott that she explained to Mrs. R just what he was like and that Mrs. R needed to take this into account. Most importantly, his mother thinks that he is just fine - no questions asked, but cooperation with Mrs. R expected. She had a hands-on approach to education. Early in the school year she invited the elementary teachers of her children to lunch so she could get to know them and understand their approach to teaching. She also used those sessions to emphasize the unique characteristics of her children. She worked tirelessly at home helping her dyslexic child learn to read and succeed in school, and she secured tutors from her contacts at church or in the community when the need arose. If the core of Arline's soul was family love, the way she lived that love was art. Her home -- carefully decorated with fabrics and carpets patiently searched for, with furniture shaped to comfort but with graceful lines, with colors chosen with the light touch of cherry blossoms on branches -- provided to her family a point of pride and admiration for her standard of taste. Her meals, often prepared several days in advance were, especially in the fifties and sixties, exotic, yet healthy and appealing to the eye. During this time, she served curried dinners to her family and guests when going out in Minneapolis meant a choice between steak or Swedish meatballs. Dressed impeccably, she bustled her husband and children to the Guthrie, the Minnesota Orchestra, and most of all to the Minneapolis Art Institute. Unable to attend college, she used her adult years to first practice various arts and, later, to become a well-respected docent at the Institute. Taking many classes and practicing with notes and a tape recorder before her first tour, as a docent she dressed, acted, and looked the part she wished to have: a knowledgeable and thoughtful guide to classics and movements in the world of art. She created an art appreciation program at Lake Harriet Methodist Church in the 1960s which exposed teenagers engaged in the confirmation process to the beauty of religious art. She took students on tours of churches around the Twin Cities explaining the art and traditions of the various faiths practiced in these diverse sanctuaries. She took a keen interest in the politics and cultural ideas not only of her century and civilization, but of Japanese and Native American cultures, and she contributed her unique insights and ideas in conversation with friends or during the family sport of competitive dinner debates. She was a strong advocate for woman's rights, working in support of Planned Parenthood, women's shelters in Minneapolis, and other crisis centers devoted to the support and advancement of women. These characteristics, talents and tastes were passed on through her sons to her grandchildren. Spencer Lee remembers that when he was little Grandma discovered that he took an interest in art. Thereupon, Grandma showed him some Japanese ink painting and art books. As a result, in high school he began to draw in the style of Japanese art. She, in turn, kept the interest between them going all through college through the mail - with newspaper articles on pieces of art or notes on museum visits she made. Andrew Lee remembers Grandma's ability to be patient and teach. She would teach him and his brother how to play bridge, always enjoying the play and helping them to improve. Her daughter-in-law remembers going to Minnesota for Christmas at Grandma's and Grandpa's, with their house decorated for the season, tickets to the Christmas Carol, and fixing beef bourguignon on Christmas Eve - a continuing family tradition for the portion of the family that moved out East. Grandma even touched the Christmases in New Jersey, by making a copy of Scott and Geri's first New Jersey house as a Christmas ornament for their tree. Her younger grandchildren, Justin and Nicole, recall her festive Christmas home, her support for their athletic, theatrical and academic endeavors and the time spent at her cabin on the North Shore. Most of all they remember the bright smiles and warm embraces she gave to all. Arline might not have thought of herself as an athlete, but she was usually game. She taught Scott and Steve how to play golf. Arline and Joe were inveterate hikers along the North Shore. Every January, they would leave Minnesota for Florida and grandchildren often visited them, with trips to Disney World that involved enthusiastic exertions. Occasionally Scott and Geri would visit, too, and they especially remember Joe and Arline, at 75, easily beating them on the doubles court. She and her husband of 53 years enjoyed each other's zest for life. They loved to dance often regaling their sons with some of their graceful moves in their living room. They both loved traveling together and were blessed often to have visited sites of historic and artistic significance throughout the US, Europe and other parts of the globe. They shared an insatiable desire to learn and grow, something they instilled in their children. Even when Arline was in a nursing home with beginning signs of dementia she continued her passion for art, enjoying visits to the Art institute and encouraging her son to discuss the connections between Rembrandt and Van Gogh or to read poetry from Emily Dickenson and Japanese Haiku. Arline Lee was vivacious. Her survivors carry her memory as a living love within them, and their lives are immeasurably better because of the life she led. Memorial donations to the Alzheimer Foundation, alzfdn.org, please.
Published on October 20, 2013
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