Lee Marcus Lerwill Written by Karen Wengreen Christensen granddaughter
Contributor: dvdmovieking Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
Lee Marcus Lerwill was born December 1, 1899, in Payson, Utah to Thomas and Violet Berry Lerwill. His father Thomas was from Devenshire, England and had left there for religious reasons at the young age of eighteen. He was first married to Anna Christina Mets in the Spring of 1866, and together they had eight children. Then, twenty years later at the age of forty-five he married Violet Berry. At the time of their marriage she was twenty-two. He was still married to Anna but lived with Violet.
"Aunt Anne" as the children of his second marriage fondly came to call her, lived just up the street from Thomas and Violet and although Thomas lived with Violet and began another young family, he always made sure she was well taken care of.
Thomas owned about a thirty acre farm in Payson. He also had several diary cows and ran a small dairy. He also raised turkeys and other livestock. Thomas was fifty-five at the time of Lees birth and so in lees early days he was put to work doing farm chores. Perhaps this is where he came to know the meaning of good hard days work, and how he came to Acquire his love for land. His chores varied from feeding livestock, to raising turkeys, to milking cows. He was always such a great help to his father, that his father always dreamed that Lee would eventually take over the farm.
Once when Lee was out doing his chores of cleaning out the turkey pens, the turkeys were getting a little excited and one of them flapped its wings so hard and just at the right moment, hitting Lee in the head, knocking him out cold!
Another time he was out playing with his brother and sisters, they were running and chasing and playing marbles. When Lee decided he needed a drink of water. His mother dipped the bucket down in the well and with a marble in his mouth he took a huge sip, swallowing the marble. He started choking and spitting and his father ran to get the horse to take him to the doctors, but when his father returned Lee was turning black and as they lifted him on the horse, his mother screamed that he would never live to see the doctor and she pulled him off the horse and slapped him right square in the back and out the marble flew.
Lee was always on the lean, lanky side. Long skinny legs and taller then most boys his age. He recalls that his father gave him a small pony and he could wrap his legs around te horse until his feet touched underneath.
His father was not one who encouraged learning, but Lee managed to attend grade school and most of Jr. High. He recalls always having to hurrying right home from school to tend to the cows, so he never really got to be involved much in school activities. The school was a few miles from his home and so he recalls riding his horse to school and back everyday.
One day as he sat down to eat his lunch, he had a sever pain in his stomach. He didn't have his horse that day and so he started walking home. He was in so much pain, he remembers crawling part of the way. When he got home his dad got the doctor and the doctor said that it was probably just something he had eaten. His grandmother lived with them at the time and she thought hot packs would make him feel better. But it only made matters worse and soon Lee started to bloat. His father changed doctors, and Dr. Winters said to get him to the hospital as soon as they could. His father rounded up the two fastest horses in Payson while his uncle put a small mattress in the back of the wagon, making a bed for Lee to ride on. His father drove the horses, and his uncle held him all the way. Lee remembers the dreadful pain he was in all the way. Dr. Winters said they needed to operate but another doctor advice was just to let him die, because his chances were one in one hundred that he would live. But lee's father insisted tha they operate. His appendix had burst and gan-green had set in. The doctors did the best they could but pronounced that Lee was dying. Family and friends gathered around. They recall that Lee climbed out of his bed and got on his knees and began to pray. One doctor spoke up saying that maybe there was one chance to save his life. He suggested giving Lee stricknine poisioning, saying that he would probably die anyway, but maybe the stricknine would counteract the posion. Several days after administering the stricknine, the infection began to gather on the right side of his face. Lee likens the right side of his face to the jowels of a chicken. The doctor lanced the swollen side and Lee remembers the pus oozing from his face and running onto a pad on his shoulder. He recalls being in the hospital for along time, and his mother coming to see him from Payson on horseback two of three times a week. To this day every time he eats, a chemical reaction in his gland produces sweat and his check sweats as he eats.
Lee quit school at an early age and began working for a dairy, milking twenty three cows each morning. About this time Lee had a dog that he had become fond of and one day he was taking a bull home. The bull turned on him and he recalls that if it hadn't been for his dog the bull would have trampled him to death. The dog kept nipping and bitting, the bull tired and Lee could continue driving him home.
One evening Lee and a friend, Melvin Taylor came from Payson to Springville in a car. He and Melvin drove up and down Center Street until they met two girls. Merlene Stevenson and Merlene's cousin Melba Gidley. At the time of their first meeting Merlene remembers not liking Lee. She said he was the tallest, lankiest guy she'd ever seen. She also said that when he got out of the car she thought he was never going to quit pulling his legs out. Lee and Merlene met when Lee as twnety two and Merlene was fifteen. They married two years later. on March 21, 1925. Merlene would of graduated in May of 1925 but she choose to marry instead. Later in life, she felt that not graduating was
as a bad mistake and she made sure all of her daughter graduated.
They were married at the Provo City Court house. After they were married they went to Springville to tell Merlene's mother, Mary Stevenson. She was out gardening and when they told her she called them "Dam fools" and turned her back and wouldn't talk to them.
At the time of their marriage, Lee was working at a service station on Center Street and 5th West, where Bradshaw Auto Parts stands today. He became interested in cars and mechanics because of his sister's husband, Marion Christensen. Thomas Lerwill always dreamed of Lee taking over his farm, and when he learned that Lee was leaving Payson and moving to Provo to become a mechanic, his fathers heart was broken.
Lee and Merlene.s marriage started out with practically nothing more than the clothing on their backs. They moved into their first apartment in Provo on about 5th west and Center. Lee was working at the gas station and the hours were long and hard. The following spring their first daughter, Pauline was born. She remember her mother putting her in the buggy and walking to the gas station to visit Lee. They would spend the evenings with him. Lee and Merlene would also clean the showroom of Russ Trayers garage, and soon Russ hired him as a mechanic. Pauline remembers Russ Trayer taking all of his employees up to Midway to the Synders hot pots and buying them a big chicken dinner and then paying for them to go swimming.
Lee became quite a well known mechanic. Known for his honesty and for his ability to work until the job was done. He was offered a job as shop foreman for Harmons Cadillac, and worked for Harmons until he retired.
In the late 1920's and early 1930's when the depression hit, and so many men were out of work, Lee never had to worry. At Harmons the mechanics, including Lee, would take turns working so that everyone could have a little money, but when Lee was off men would bring their cars to his house. In the early 1930's when most people were really struggling, Lee paid cash for a new car. His daughters can't recall a real depression because Lee always had work, and their needs were always met.
Lee and Merlene moved two or three times, and also acquired another daughter Joan, before buying their first home in about 1933. At the time of its purchase Lee just wasn't sure they could afford it, after all it cost $2200.00. The home was located at 771 W. lst N. Provo, is still owned by lee today.
Lee's father died in the spring of 1929, and soon after he moved his mother over to live in a home across the street and down from his own home. He had a deep love for his mother and cared for her until the day she died. Every spring he planted a garden and helped her attend it.
Besides caring for his mother and the young family of his own, his daughters remember the long hours their father used to work. In those days there were no unions or laws to protect the average worker and so oft times Lee would work ten hours a day, seven days a week. Lee didn't question or complain, he just worked hard and always tried to do his best to please the customers. The most money Lee ever made in his life was $450.00 a month. But his daughters never remember going without or ever wanting for anything.
Everyday Lee would come home for lunch, and Merlene would serve a delicious hot meal, always made up of meat, potatoes and gravy and vegetables. Pauline, the oldest daughter, remembers going to the store and buying twenty five cents worth of beef steak, which was enough to give each family member a nice piece of meat, with some left over.
The fellow who worked with Lee, Sam Kopp remembers what a fine worker and a good honest human being Lee was. Sam said that Lee was a fair and dependable man, and everyone who knew "uncle Lee" loved him.
As the years past Lee began to lose his hearing from the loud noises at the garage. I can remember having to talk loud in order for grandpa to hear me. In his late sixties, he finally got hearing aids and today he can her as good as you and I.
Pauline remembers when Lee began coming home really tired and said that it was all he could do to walk into the house. The doctors diagnosed it as a hyper-thyroid. Dr. Craig Clark removed his thyroid and in the process the doctor bruised his voice box. It took Lee almost a year to regain his voice. Pauline remembers him not being able to talk in more than a whisper.
In 1941 Lee stopped smoking and he and Merlene were sealed along with their four daughter in the Temple for time and all eternity. Even after being to the temple they still weren't very active in the church. It wasn't until there later years in life that they became really active.
In March of 1944, they were blessed with their fifty and final daughter. Lee has always been a kind and loving father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He has always loved little children, I have fond memories of his tight loves and his teasing manner. Today he has a fine posterity. Five daughters, Pauline, Joan, Renee, Annette and Linda
. Twenty- two grandchildren and eighteen great grandchildren.
Lee began fishing at Strawberry Resevoir in 1918. Fishing was always a great hobby of his. In 1956, Lee and his son-in-law, Earl Wengreen, bought a cabin and an older fishing boat. I remember as a little girl going with grandma and grandpa just about every weekend to the cabin and fishing all weekend. What fine memories I have of those times. Plenty of food, lots of laughter, and always lots of fish. I remember one time, my dad, Earl Wengreen, and grandpa and my sister Pam and myself going out in the old boat over by the strawberry dam. In four hours we caught sixty-three fish, not one weighing less than one and one-half pounds. I can still remember grandpas excitment and his jumping from pole to pole, because no sooner would we take a fish off the end of the line, than another line would have a bite! What an incredible time we had. I have so many memories of these fun times. Lee was a great fisherman, and as he grew older and retired, you could find he and grandma at Strawberry, fifty per cent of the time!
Besides being a great fisherman, Lee has always been a great gardener. Lee has neighbors and relatives alike that will always remember the sweet delicious corn and bing cherries that he could grow. His garden was a great love of his. If he wasn't fishing, ;you could fin him out in his garden. He could grow anything and everything, and he always shared his goods with his neighbors and friends.
In 1964, tragedy struck. Lee's daughter Joan died from stomach cancer. At the time of her death she was thirty-six years old, and had a young family of three daughters. Lee and Merlene, being the fine, caring parents that they were, moved in with Earl and help care for his daughters. I remember their love for us, and the help that they were to our family during the years that followed. I remember Lee's love for his daughters. I can remember his concern and his endless caring for his sick daughter. He was by her side the day she died. The months that followed were hard for all of us. I remember eating dinner one night, and we were listening to a record call "The Lords Prayer"; and seeing tears stream down grandpa's face. I'll never forget that, it so impressed upon me his great ability to love and care for others.
At the end of 1964, at the age of sixty-five Lee retired. But that doesn't mean he stopped working. He now took on a larger garden spot, that was adjacent to his own garden, and he also worked on friends and families cars. In later years he began working at Ferres Mill, cleaning up after the workers. He and Merlene also traveled a little, but Lee was always anxious to return home. He was a simple man. A lover of his home and family. Fancy plaaces, fancy food, or fancy clothes just wasn't important to Lee. H'd settle for a good home cooked meal, his homemade shirts that grandma made, and his family gathered around. Many memories I have of Sunday nights and holidays at grandmas and grandpas. The evenings were always filled with laughter, grandma famous white cake with chocolate frosting, ice cream and lots of love. Grandpa was always famous for grabbing your fingers and pinching them until they either fell off or you screamed. Perhaps you would say that Lee never really had or knew the finer things of life. Never had a lot of education, but perhaps he had the finer things that some men spend a fortune to find. A good name, respect and good loving family and a lifetime of happiness.
Another tragedy struck in the spring of 1973. On March 14, 1973, Lee's wife Merlene died. She died of the same cancer of which he had lost his daughter, only nine years earlier. After forty-eight years of marriage, a loss of your companion is not easily accepted. Merlene had cared so completely for Lee, that without her he was lost. She had budgeted the money, she had remembered all the birthdays, had always had the household organized so carrying on without her seemed an impossibility. On one occasion I asked grandpa to tell me about grandma and in his own words he said, "your grandmother was the most wonderful woman in the world." She was ambitious, always in a hurry to go somewhere or do something. She never complained about anything and she always thought so much of her daughters and family.
But life did go on and loniness accompanied it. In March of the following year 1974, Lee remarried. He married a woman by the name of Ula Skaggs Williams Kapperman. She was a good woman, but from a different walk of life. Accustomed to money, fancy foods and fancy places. Their marriage had its troubles from the start and soon it ended in divorce. A few month later, Lee and Ula married again, only to divorce again.
fIn the fall of l978, Lee met anoher fine woman, Mildred Marston, whom he married on Dec. 9,1978. At the time of their marriage, Lee was seventy-eight, and Mildred was sixty. They had established a happy marriage, and are enjoying life to the fullest. They live in Mildred's home, 1257 E. 250 S. Provo. Lee has rented his home in Prove, but still maintains the garden area. They have been working on improving Mildred's home by carpeting, painting and adding on a carport. They have also traveled back east, on a church history trip, to California and most recently to Hawaii. As family what a joy it is to see grandpa so content and happy. We have all come to love his wife, Mildred and we rest assured that grandpa and Mildred will spend their last days together in happiness.