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Lee left legacy of books, short stories, songs PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Monday, 27 December 2010 17:29

By Carolyn Lee

The Imperial Republican

 

When Wayne Lee, 93, died Dec. 5 he left behind him a full life. He lived his entire life in Chase County but broadened his horizons with travel both for pleasure and research for his books.

Lee wrote 57 historical Westerns, beginning with the first, Prairie Vengance, published in 1954. His last book was finished just the day before he suffered a stroke, on New Years Day 2000.

Son Charley said recently that he’d like to see #57 published. “It needs to be put in form for an editor to go to. We need to talk to a publisher.”

Lee also wrote short stories, with his first accepted for publication in the late ‘40s. His son said many of those stories were based on his religion.

“He’d take his life experiences and make stories out of them,” Charley noted.

Noted historical Western author Wayne Lee passed away Dec. 5 at the age of 93. (Courtesy Photo)

 

The author began writing in 1935 following graduation from Chase County High School. He wanted to attend college, but his father’s health kept him on the family farm.

He eventually completed four semesters of English classes by correspondence.

Lee researched his books in depth, his son said.

When he was writing a book based on Julesburg, Colo., he learned that the town had occupied four locations. If the story was set in 1888, Charley said, he’d go to the site recorded at that time and take a metal detector to locate stores and buildings.

“Even if it was a fictional Western it had to be historically correct,” Charley explained. Lee would visit libraries, museums and the site setting of his books to research them.

“We visited the descendents of subjects, from Canada to Mexico,” his son said. “As a family we’d sometimes go along. I spent time sitting outside libraries We traveled quite a lot, and enjoyed being part of it,” or Lee’s research.

Charley said a fictional Western would take his father a month or two to write. At the same time he was writing songs.

Lee formed his first band in the ‘30s and began writing and arranging music. He’d write all the music for the instruments and sometimes for the voice, according to his obituary.

He wrote over 400 songs, and kept active with bands into his 80s.

One of his more well-known bands included Lowell Farrell, Wayne Harvey, Robert Lee and Verna Johnson.

Lee was the rural mail carrier for the Lamar area for over 30 years. He was active in the Christian Church in Lamar and served as an elder for much of his adult life.

He served in every position in the Western Writers of America, and was on the board of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Lee was also a guiding force behind the establishment of the Chase County Museum.

He taught college-level creative writing through the Writer’s Digest correspondence school.

He also traveled with wife Pearl to the Holy Land and Australia, as well as around the country, researching his books and speaking at conferences.

“We hated to see him go, but it’s just the circle of life,” Charley said. “He wasn’t in good enough shape to enjoy life anymore. We believe in life after death. He’s with the Lord.”

And, it was a full life.