OBITUARY: Peter Lee, 80, City Engineer, Devoted Lutheran, Longtime Resident of Pacific Palisades

Per Gudleik Lie was born on September 24, 1939 in the small fishing village of Fiksdal, Norway. His mother was born Ingeborg Fiksdal and his dad Anders Lie. His parents grew up across from each other in the region of Tomrefjord in northwest Norway, where winters were cold and snow prevalent. His dad was a farmer and tailor, and his mom helped on the family farm. Farming was difficult in Tomrefijord, where there are only small strips of arable land between the mountains and the ocean.

After receiving word from a great uncle (Mads Fiksdal, a medical doctor) who had moved to sunny Southern California that life was good in America, the Lie family picked up everything and moved to Venice, California in 1950. Peter took to the new world and the family adjusted to life in America. He attended Venice High School, changed his name to Peter (from Per) and the whole family adopted the Lee surname.

Peter attended Santa Monica College and worked for several years before taking the vacation of his lifetime in 1961 with his good friend, Carl Schafer. They bicycled all summer through Germany, Denmark, Norway and other countries. During that tour Peter first met his future wife, Gerda Elisabeth Lee, who was Carl’s Danish cousin.

Upon returning from his adventure, Peter found a draft notice and elected to attend radar school in the U.S. Army. He entered basic training at Ft. Ord in Monterey and was then posted to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, where he developed an interest in electrical engineering, which would become his career occupation.

After three years of military service, Peter attended Cal Poly Pomona on the G.I. Bill and received a bachelor’s degree. During that time, in 1967, he attended his friend Carl’s wedding, where he again met Carl’s cousin Gerda, who had traveled all the way from Denmark. After a long-distance relationship involving many letters and phone calls, Peter married Gerda on July 12, 1969 in her hometown of Moltrup, Denmark. His younger brother Aage served as Best Man.

Peter and Gerda made a home for themselves, first in a small apartment above a garage in Santa Monica, and then a house in Westchester, in the early 1970s, where sons Paul and John were born. Peter worked in various roles as a Staff Engineer at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for 30 years, until his retirement in 1998.

Peter and Gerda became regulars at Westchester Lutheran Church and both boys attended Pre-school there. In 1976, the family moved to Fiske Street in Pacific Palisades. Paul and John graduated from Palisades High School and went on the earn degrees at UC Berkeley.

The Lee family was active in the community for decades, with Peter often filling a role as assistant coach or referee for various sports and as a Council Member and longtime Elder at Palisades Lutheran Church.

He led a Bible study every Sunday morning for about 30 years and volunteered for many tasks, including ushering and lots of setting up and cleaning up at various church events, workdays and rummage sales. He was the Head Elder at the time of his death.

Peter also enjoyed reading in his spare time. His favorite books were apologetics written by scientists and he also enjoyed science fiction (mainly in his youth). He loved the group “Reasons to Believe,” started by Hugh Ross.

Peter and Gerda and their sons enjoyed the family camaraderie of Fiske Street and traveled as regularly as possible to see family overseas in Denmark and Norway.

After Peter retired, he and Gerda were empty nesters until her death from cancer in April 2008. Peter remarried to Dee Ann Lee in 2016 and moved to Malibu, where he enjoyed retired life near the coast and remained active with his walking group (four times a week), family visits and vacations/cruises with Dee Ann.

Peter Lee passed away on April 7, shortly after he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. He was predeceased by his brother, Aage, in 2013. He is survived by his wife Dee Ann; sons Paul (wife Raniel) and John Lee (wife Julia); and five grandsons: Nathaniel, Tanner, Griffin, Johnny and Oliver Lee.

A memorial service will be held at Palisades Lutheran Church with a date to be determined after shelter-in-place has ended.


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