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1938 Lee 2023

Lee DeGroff

March 31, 1938 — August 24, 2023

Leland “Lee” Dale DeGroff age 85 of Brewster, NE passed away August 24, 2023, at his home in Brewster.

Graveside services will be Wednesday, August 30, 2023, at 11:00 am at the Brewster Cemetery in Brewster, NE. In lieu of flowers memorials are suggested to Brewster Fire & Rescue. A visitation will be held on Tuesday, August 29th from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm with family greeting 5:30 to 6:30 pm at Govier Brothers Mortuary in Broken Bow. Govier Brothers Mortuary are in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be left at www.govierbrothers.com.

Leland, fondly known as Lee, was born to Gerald and Jane DeGroff on March 31st, 1938, in Burwell, Nebraska. He married the love of his life, Beverly Dimmit, on June 12th, 1960. They raised four children together: Debra, Rhonda, Craig, and Ryan.

He was raised in southwest Holt County in the Sandhills, nine miles west of Swan Lake, on a ranch. He attended high school at Burwell, participating in football, boxing, and long-distance track.

In 1962, the Holt County ranch was traded for the 10,000-acre Ericson Ranch northwest of Brewster, Nebraska. They drove 500 cows and calves across the sandhills. It took six days to get there, going through ranch after ranch for miles and sleeping under the stars.

He was widely recognized as one of the first to stock a large inventory of hale trailers, and ranchers came from all over. As the stock trailers were new to ranch country, he spent much time repairing and wiring brakes and lights.

He soon purchased a golden palomino stallion named “Skips Count.” “Skip” was his prized possession, and he bred hundreds of colts, also taking in outside mares.

In the mid-70s, he built a runway and hanger on the ranch and bought his first plane, the Piper J3 Cub, using it for both hobby and work. One of his favorite pastimes was coyote hunting with greyhounds. In the early days, he piloted the airplane, searching for stray coyotes in the sky. He also piloted around the ranch, checking the cattle’s water.

Three Bars was his Ranch Rodeo Team, with Craig DeGroff, Ryan DeGroff, Rex Spanel, Punch Howard, and Dale Pricket. Their team participated in the National Finals Ranch Rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas in 1988 & 1989. They were Nebraska State Champions in 1990.

Lee was active in the Brewster Volunteer Fire Department, and he and his wife Beverly were EMTs for over 50 years. Recently retiring in 2022. He was awarded the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. Nebraska EMT award in the 1990s.

Lee and his beautiful wife continued to run mother cows and calves on the North Loup River in Blaine County. Raising quality black Angus cattle and cowboying with his favorite horses, Gray and Bem.  

Lee and Beverly have owned the Sandhills Guest Ranch Bed & Breakfast for 27 years. They had guests from all over the world having met so many wonderful people. They blessed many lives with their home-cooked meals and Sandhills hospitality.

Lee DeGroff is survived by his wife, Beverly. Four children, Debra (Leon) Zimmerman of Broken Bow, NE, Rhonda (Mark) Haynes of Broken Bow, NE, Craig (Traci) DeGroff of Broken Bow, NE, and Ryan (Becky) DeGroff of Glenrock, WY. Eight grandchildren: Jill (Jeremy) Houghtelling, Jaren Zimmerman, Jalee (Nick) Karmazin, Clinton (Megan) Haynes, Leigh (Matt) Stutzman, Kerri (Calder) Forcella, Kesha DeGroff, and Riley DeGroff. Twelve great-grandchildren. Siblings Ray DeGroff, Fay White, Mary Jane Riobotta, and Connie Strand.

Lee was preceded in death by his parents, Gerald and Jane DeGroff, and his sibling infant, Donna.

 

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