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Dennis Lee is grand marshal of Saturday's Booster Days parade

Dennis Lee, center, accompanied by his wife, Debra, receives a plaque naming him grand marshal of the 2013 Booster Days parade from Hudson Boosters President Tom Smith. The parade on Second Street in downtown Hudson is Saturday, July 6, starting at 11 a.m.

Dennis Lee is the type of person who has kept the Hudson Boosters youth sports organization going for 61 years.

When his three boys were young, he coached their baseball teams, beginning with T-ball and continuing through the most advanced in-house league.

He also coached fifth- and sixth-grade football, became a Booster member, served on the board and worked as a volunteer at the annual Booster Days celebration.

Now he’ll ride on the back of a convertible with his wife, Debra, as the grand marshal of the 2013 parade set for 11 a.m. Saturday, July 6.

“Denny has been a longtime Hudson resident, a prominent businessman, a former Booster member for many years – and now as an informal Booster member, he still helps out with the parade and is a good professional business resource for the Boosters,” the organization’s president, Tom Smith, said in announcing the selection last week.

The announcement was made during a dinner at the Sports Club also attended by Deb Lee, 2013 Booster scholarship winner Serena Schultz and her parents, Holly and Pete, and Smith and his wife, Sarah.

The 46-year-old Smith said Lee, 63, is an advisor to the current, relatively younger, leaders of the organization.

Lee likened the changing leadership of the Boosters to a relay race, with older members passing the baton to the next generation.

He said one of the things about Hudson that impressed him most when he and Deb moved here in 1977 was the way organizations took the initiative to serve youth.

“Not only the Boosters, but the hockey association and the soccer association. What a great team of individuals that got things going, raising funds and working on a volunteer basis to support these organizations,” Lee said.

Lee was the assistant corporate controller for an oil and gas company that had an office in the IDS Center in Minneapolis when he and Deb came to Hudson. She was a business teacher at Woodbury High School.

When the oil and gas company wanted Lee to move to Corpus Christi, Texas, in the late 1970s, he went to work for Cemstone concrete company as its corporate controller.

Deb took nine years off from teaching to be a full-time mother and homemaker. In 1988, she replaced longtime Hudson High School business teacher Warren Fegely when he retired.

She has been at the high school ever since, and has served as the faculty advisor for the True Blue Annual yearbook the entire time.

“She amazes me with her dedication,” Lee said of his wife.

The Lees’ middle son, Ramsey, has cerebral palsy, and they decided one of them needed flexibility in their job to attend to his needs. So Dennis took over an independent insurance agency, Protect All, and operated it for 10 years.

In 1998, he sold the agency and went to work for Valley Agencies in Bayport, Minn. He’s still with the company, but is moving this week to the Stillwater office.

He said most of his customers are from Wisconsin still – Hudson, River Falls and surrounding communities.

Lee also was a Boy Scout leader when his sons were young. He taught Sunday school, too, and joined the Noon Rotary Club about 15 years ago.

The Lees’ oldest son, Matt, is a major in the U.S. Army and a West Point graduate. His wife, Kacie, also is an Army major, and a Blackhawk helicopter pilot.

They have two young children, including a daughter born in their car in the parking lot of a Texas hospital last month. They are stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, near Austin.

Ramsey resides in the Hudson area and is studying to take the entrance exam for law school. He already has a master’s degree from UW-Whitewater.

Despite his physical problems, Ramsey keeps a “darn good attitude,” Lee said. “Attitude is very important. It helps in the moving forward,” he said.

The Lees’ youngest son, Nate, is a physical education and health teacher in a suburb of Phoenix. He’s engaged to be married Nov. 30.

Lee said he was always pretty basic in his choice of sports – but his boys participated in soccer, hockey, swimming and cross country, too.

He said he helped out with the soccer, hockey and swimming programs even though he didn’t know much about the sports.

There’s always a way to be involved in a program, he said.

“We keep learning, that’s the important thing. We want to pass the good stuff on to the youth.”

Asked how he reacted to learning he was chosen to be grand marshal, Denny joked that he assumed that the other candidates were going to be out of town the week of Booster Days.

“There are a lot of worthy people who put in more time than me (supporting the Boosters),” he said, “but I’m very honored and grateful.”

“I think the world of the Booster organization and its volunteers,” he added.

He said he appreciates the Boosters’ focus on fun and teaching youth good lifetime skills.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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