Lee passed away on January 2, 2020 peacefully, at his home in Wesley Lea Hill in Auburn, from congestive heart failure, after a full and long life. He was born February 18, 1926 in Dieringer, WA. to Swiss immigrants Leopold and Theresa Ettlin Baerny. He is survived by his wife Ann, children Linda (Reg) Sauceda, Mick (Connie) Baerny, Pat (Jim) Roberts, and Janice (Bill) Breyer; 12 grandchildren; 9 great grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, and siblings Helen Gilbertson and Leona Reis. Lee was preceded in death by both his parents, son Gordon Baerny, grandson Jared Roberts, and brothers Frank Baerny and Leroy Baerny.
His childhood and formative years were spent living and working on his parent’s dairy farms in the Auburn and Kent Valley, an experience he always treasured. In December of 1943, while still in high school, he enlisted in the US Navy. After completing basic training, he was sent to the Pacific Theatre of the war on a LST (landing ship, tank) as a quartermaster, a position he earned due to his remarkable and exquisite handwriting. He survived a half dozen landings, several kamikaze attacks, and a near miss by a torpedo; all things he did not share till later in life. His Swiss heritage, growing up on a farm, living through the Great Depression, and his war experiences forever influenced his values, attitude, and appreciation of life.
After the war he returned to Auburn and settled there, marrying Ann Kaelin in April 1948, a daughter of Swiss immigrants also, and began their family. Lee had a work ethic second to none. He first worked at his father’s feed store in Auburn for several years. Then he began a truck driving career beginning with Meadowsweet Dairy in Tacoma. Next he drove tanker trucks for PIE, General Petroleum, and eventually a long career with Mobil Oil where he retired as delivery superintendent at its Vernon terminal in the Los Angeles area. During his driving years, he often worked two jobs at a time. This allowed Ann to be a stay at home mother, but unfortunately he was gone for very long hours and days, though he never complained. He was also a volunteer fireman for Fire District #44 on Lea Hill Auburn. Lee was a member of the Tacoma Swiss Men’s Society and Tacoma Swiss Sportsman’s Club.
Immediately upon retirement in 1985, Lee and Ann moved back to Washington and built a home on acreage in the Maple Valley area where he loved to garden and raise beef cattle. He truly loved and enjoyed being with his family (especially his grandchildren and great grandchildren), participating in events at the Swiss Sportsman Club, and traveling in his motorhome.
Lee lived a long life and will be eternally remembered and missed by his family. His values, devotion to family and friends, easy going friendly positive personality, and love of life will be remembered by all who knew him.
A funeral mass will be held Thursday, January 16 at 11:00 am at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Covington, with reception to follow in the church hall. Viewing will be at the church prior to the service.
Burial will be at the Sumner Cemetery, Sumner, WA. Friday, January 17 at 1:30 pm.
The family is grateful for the professional and compassionate care Lee received at Wesley Lea Hill Auburn Rehabilitation and Care Center.
In lieu of flowers, memorials to Swiss Men’s Society (Scholarship Fund) 9205 198th Ave. E. Bonney Lake, WA. 98391 or your favorite charity.
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