Lee Earl Houtz was born on July 31, 1930, in one of the old Houtz homesteads near Clarks Valley Road. He passed away peacefully on August 31, 2023, at the age of 93. He was the seventh and last child of Carrie Alberta Shuey Houtz and William Henry Houtz. Lee said goodbye in previous years to siblings Miriam Thora Keesey Seitzinger, Dorothea Pauline Kehler, Floyd Wesley Houtz, Marlin Hugo Houtz, Walter Arnold Houtz, and Donald Oliver Houtz. Family was the center of Lee’s life. He had cherished memories of when the whole Houtz clan would gather for day-long picnics at Donald and Eleanor’s picnic grove.
Lee also had a genuine love for his community, for sports, and for his country. He was a proud Navy Veteran, having served during the Korean Conflict on the USS Gainard, DD706. Lee never left home without wearing his USS Gainard ballcap. There are at least five caps in his collection, ranging from worn out and faded to the newest one he was wearing during the last week of his life. Lee was a member of American Legion, Post 468 of Tower City. He served as Commander of that post in 1968 and was a constant presence at flag burning ceremonies, graveside ceremonies, and marching in parades through the town he loved and lived in. As a young man, Lee was a star basketball player for Tower City High School. Both of Lee’s sons, Gary and Bryon, enjoyed the sport as well and Lee and Betty Ann never missed a game. Truth be told, Lee loved all sports. He was an avid supporter of Williams Valley football, baseball, basketball, and softball. In the 1970’s during the Coach Elder era, Lee served as WV Football Booster President. He also coached Little League – the “mighty mighty Pirates.” In his later years, his support continued. Faithful friends made sure he had a ride to football and softball games, where he was a regular amongst a group of fans enjoying an after-game beer at the Legion.
He was a lifelong member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Tower City. He and Betty Ann, also a lifelong member, were married there in 1963, raised their children in the church, and attended religiously until they both no longer could. Lee loved his church family. His legacy in church will always be pestering the kids sitting in the pew in front of him. Lee’s heart may have given out on him in the end, but it never got old.
Lee had many jobs in his life, but his most steadfast employment was as a machinist at American Can Company in Lemoyne. He retired from American Can after 35 years. After retirement, Lee and Betty Ann could regularly be seen walking through town. He scored himself a part-time job at K&S Grocery, helping Carl Savage make potato filling and using his woodworking skills to build displays for the grocery store. Lee also enjoyed rocking on his porch swing and waving or talking to passersby. Lee’s oldest sister Miriam once said, “There’s something about rocking back and forth that’s good for you.” Lee knew she was right.
Lee leaves the physical world to enter the kingdom of Heaven after a long life filled with family, friends, struggles, fellowship, blessings, and community. During those times when he was sick, he often said, “I had a good life.” He was grateful for his life, but no more grateful than those who loved and cherished him best.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Elizabeth Ann Lebo Houtz. He was Dad to Gary Houtz and wife Teena, Tammy Houtz Russell, and Bryon Houtz and wife Kelley. He was Pop-Pop and Pap to Matt Houtz and wife Alyssa; Jordan Houtz Nauss and husband Jack; Katelyn Russell Savage and husband Patrick; Nathan Russell, Brady Houtz, and Amber Keim and husband Robbie; great-grandchildren Elleena Houtz, Max Nauss, Nora Nauss, Taylor Burger, Jayden Cole, Gavin Keim, and Deklan Keim. He also loved and cherished his niece Cindy Houtz Welsh and her husband John. Cindy, like her dad Donald during his lifetime, is a true family caregiver in so many ways. She and John took such good care of both Lee and Betty Ann over the years. Lee was also grateful for Christine Reiner and others who in his last years, made sure he could worship every Sunday.
Funeral services will be held Friday, September 8, 2023 at 11:00 AM from St Pauls Lutheran Church, Tower City. Visitation will be from 10-11. Immediately following the services, a luncheon and time of fellowship will be held in the church social hall. Burial with full military honors will be held at 2:30 PM at the Indiantown Gap National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to one of the organizations that mattered most to Lee, including St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, the American Legion Post 468, or Williams Valley Athletic Association (checks payable to Williams Valley School District with “Athletics” in the memo.
The Dimon Funeral Home & Cremation Services Inc. is honored to serve Lee's family. To send condolences, visit www.dimonfuneralhome.com