The Oral History Project
Premiering May 1, 2023, The Monee Historical Society is proud to present W. Lee Deutsche along with his wife Mary Ann, with his thoughts on farming, public service and finding love in unexpected places. Lee recently passed in January 2022, but he lives on through his family and and all those whom he touched in his commitment to public service.
W. Lee Deutsche was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois, on April 1, 1941, to LeRoy and Esther (Bartels) Deutsche. Lee graduated from Crete-Monee High School in 1959 and from Arkansas State University in 1964, with a BS degree in Animal Husbandry.
As a high school FFA project, Lee purchased a few Shorthorn heifers. Raising and breeding Registered Shorthorn Cattle became a lifelong passion as a proud member of the American Shorthorn Association. Lee showed his cattle nationally, and in Canada. His reputation for knowledge of registered Shorthorn pedigrees was second to none. He also raised corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay, with his father, brother, and sons.
The Deutsche Family adopted and promoted land and water conservation practices such as terraces and no-till farming. Lee served on the Will/South Cook Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Directors. The Deutsche Family represented the region as Conservation Farm Family of the Year in 1982, and traveled to both the state and national conventions. Lee was the Nature Conservancy Citizen of the Year in 2016.
Lee also served his community on the Crete-Monee 201-U Board of Education, the Will County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, the Nature Conservancy Foundation Board, the Forest Preserve District of Will County, and the Will County Board. Lee was a lifelong member of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ and served on many church boards. He enjoyed attending his grandchildren’s sporting events and school activities, and was a die hard Cubs fan who celebrated their long-awaited World Series Championship in 2016.
Go to our YouTube channel to watch the Oral History Project.