Lee Wayne Semler, 90, a longtime area resident and businessman, passed away Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Iowa City.
He is survived by his son and his wife, Shane and Lisa Semler; and his sisters-in-law, Ruth Semler and Kathy (Ed) Carney.
Lee was preceded in death by his wife, Karen; his son, Shannon Semler; his parents, Frederick and Mae (Stumpf) Semler; siblings, Donald Semler (Loretta), Joe Semler, Dorothy Lemley (Leo), Clara Jordan (Keith), George Semler (Gertrude) and Ed Semler; and numerous relatives who lived in Iowa City and the surrounding area.
Lee was born Oct. 3, 1930, in Wellman, Iowa. He graduated from Wellman High School in 1948, and after high school joined the U.S. Army and served in the Korean War. He married Karen Brenneman on Feb. 14, 1959. They had two sons, Shane and Shannon. Lee and Karen had just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day 2019.
Lee always worked more than one job. He worked several years as a barber, got involved in apartment ownership/management and, in 1963, he and his wife Karen opened an office for American Family Insurance in Coralville. His insurance company was located right next to his barber shop. Their agency became one of the most successful agencies in American Family's history, and Lee was inducted into the 15-Time Hall of Fame. He and Karen received numerous recognitions and awards over their 29 years with the company. In 1988, they started Chill 'N Grill Restaurant on North Linn Street, which they owned and operated with their sons, eventually selling in 2004.
Lee worked hard and he played hard. He was involved in bowling and golf leagues, and he spent winters golfing in Biloxi, Miss. He loved his golf cart, so was on it whenever possible, and he and Karen could be found on either Fairview or Hi Point golf courses many days that were good for golfing. They also enjoyed bowling for many years at the former Coral Lanes and Colonial Lanes. When it came to his yard, he was a perfectionist and, in later years, he used his golf cart to pull dandelions or he could be found relaxing and enjoying himself sitting on the golf cart in the garage.
Lee served on numerous business and community groups over the years. He also enjoyed the social aspect of his life as an active member of the Moose Club and VFW. He and Karen enjoyed playing cards. They especially enjoyed any occasion that involved family and friends.
A time of visitation will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, at Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service. Private family graveside services will be held at Oak Hill Cemetery in Coralville. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made in Lee's memory to the Veterans Liberty Center, 2116 S. Riverside Dr., Iowa City, IA 52246. To share a thought, memory or condolence with his family, please visit the funeral home website at www.gayandciha.com.