Evelyn (Evie) Arlene Stange Lee, the first female worker at Wenger Corporation in Owatonna, passed at home on April 16 after a short battle with cancer.

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Lee worked at the factory for 26 years from 1972-1998. Wenger Corporation, which produces products for music education, performing arts, and athletic markets, was created in 1946, but did not have any female workers until Lee.

I couldn't imagine how difficult the assimilation would have been. Before Wenger Corporation, Lee worked on a family farm just north of Hope. It had to be a bit overwhelming moving from that to a factory job with only men co-workers.

Lee, born in Rochester, was a very hardworking woman from the sounds of it. Upon retirement, Lee dedicated time to volunteering at Senior Center, Cedarview Nursing, and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

In her free time, she enjoyed camping, reading, dancing to old-time music, and playing board games and cards. She especially loved spending time with her seven grandchildren and sixteen great-grandchildren.

Friends may greet the family Tuesday at the Brick-Meger Funeral Home in Owatonna from 5-7 pm. There will be a private funeral on Wednesday at the funeral home, followed by an interment at Steele Center Cemetery.

Lee was very brave and dedicated to her job. She didn't let hard work or norms hold her back.

I worked in a bike factory one summer, and let me tell you it was pretty hard on the body. So I give big kudos to those who are in that line of work.

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