Lee Wendler Haven was born February 24, 1931, in San Onofre, CA, the 10th of 11 children born to Archibald Blaine and Lizzie Hattie (Brown) Haven. On January 29, 2022, while visiting family in Phoenix, AZ, Lee passed peacefully surrounded by loved ones, weeks away from his 91st birthday.
Lee grew up and worked with his family (A.B. Haven and Son’s) on the sprawling farm and ranch of Rancho Santa Margarita in San Onofre that later became Camp Pendleton through Eminent Domain. He loved operating heavy equipment, rebuilding any Model T engine he could get his hands on, fishing and hunting with his brothers, and eating fresh tomatoes and lettuce in the fields. In September 1951, Lee married his high school sweetheart, Joanne Brownell. In March 1952, he enlisted in the US Army, where he served as Military Police Corps in the Korean War. During his military service Lee earned a Korean Service Medal, Bronze Service Stars, a United Nations Service Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, and a Meritorious Unit Commendation. Upon his Honorable discharge from the Army, Lee and Joanne made a start for themselves in San Clemente, CA. He owned a heavy equipment business, worked for an excavation company, and continued operating heavy equipment for the family farming and ranching business.
He and Joanne began their family in 1955 with the birth of the first of four girls, Rene, followed in short succession by daughters Norma, Tammie, and Marci. In 1963, Lee and Joanne made the brave decision to move their family to Nubieber, CA, in order to enrich their children’s lives in rural Northern California; where he carved out a name for himself as a premiere land leveler with the help of his daughters as Lee W. Haven Land Leveling. Even coming from the male dominated world of earth moving and ranching, Lee was always proud of his daughters. He taught them how to operate heavy equipment, holding them up to his high standards as well as schooling them in his profound knowledge and skill in earth moving, building reservoirs, dams, roads, and land leveling farmland fields. After his initial retirement, Lee continued to use his heavy equipment skills by working in the Operating Engineers Union while traveling the western United States with wife Joanne. In retirement, Lee developed a great passion and skill for making ‘to scale’ wooden tractor models, furniture, and various wood objects for his family and friends to enjoy, many of which won Blue Ribbon awards at local fairs.
After the passing of his wife Joanne in December 2012, Lee carried on his zest for life. Family friend Edna Bell and Lee reconnected in January 2014, and both fell in love for the second time. The two companions were often spotted out on ‘snoop patrol’ checking out local land marks. Lee and Edna had many recreational traveling adventures across the western United States, through Canada to Alaska, and to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Lee and Edna celebrated life and made the various trips to visit with their daughters, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Lee loved the family reunions and gatherings. The day he passed away he was talking about and planning a reunion as part of an upcoming family wedding event. His last months on earth were lived true to his style as independent, free as possible, and traveling to visit family in order to enjoy the company of loved ones. Lee was always joking, and greeted everyone with his signature “Howdy Do!”
Lee is survived by his love, best friend, and companion Edna Bell; his four daughters Rene (Dan) White, Norma (Terry) Smith, Tammie (Russ) Cogburn, and Marci Marzano; stepdaughter Ramona (Michael) Mideiros-Rudiger; 14 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren; and numerous step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren; as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his wife Joanne, son-in-law Pete Marzano, granddaughter Julie, and his 10 brothers and sisters.
At his request a private family service will be held at a later date.