Lee (Ilene) grew up in Saint Louis Park, and now lives in Apple Valley with her husband Gary. They have two grown children – Andrea who lives in Chicago and Cory who lives in San Francisco. Lee recently retired after having worked for over 40 years in Human Resources at various companies, most recently Bilfinger Water Technologies. Gary still works in adhesive sales for a German-based company.
Where were you born and raised?
I was actually born in the Bronx and lived there till the ripe old age of 1. Then I lived in Hartford, Connecticut till I was 9. And have been in Minneapolis since 1959.
My Dad’s from New York, my Mom is from Minneapolis. They met when they were both in the service. She was a marine. He was US army and served in Italy, and we have pictures of him in Naples. Military Police.
Mom had very strong roots here and eventually convinced him to come here.
Did you know any of the famous folks who have come from Saint Louis Park, like Al Franken?
Franken went to Breck or Blake. And the Coen Brothers are both younger, they graduated with my younger brother.
Thomas Friedman also graduated from there. He was younger than me but we were both journalism majors in high school. I went to the University of Minnesota for my degree in journalism, but I never practiced. I was more onto the yearbook, and Tom Friedman was newspaper.
Though we both were taught by the same teacher. In his book The World Is Flat he dedicates a chapter to his high school teacher, which was my teacher Hattie Steinberg. She’s no longer living.
Editor’s note: according to Friedman’s website “it was a visit to Israel with his parents during Christmas vacation in 1968–69 that stirred his interest in the Middle East, and it was his high school journalism teacher, Hattie Steinberg, who inspired in him a love of reporting and newspapers. On January 9, 2001, after Steinberg’s death, Friedman celebrated her in his New York Times column, which included:
Hattie was the legendary journalism teacher at St. Louis Park High School, Room 313. I took her intro to journalism course in 10th grade, back in 1969, and have never needed, or taken, another course in journalism since. She was that good…
Hattie was the toughest teacher I ever had. After you took her journalism course in 10th grade, you tried out for the paper, The Echo, which she supervised. Competition was fierce. In 11th grade, I didn’t quite come up to her writing standards, so she made me business manager, selling ads to the local pizza parlors. That year, though, she let me write one story. It was about an Israeli general who had been a hero in the Six-Day War, who was giving a lecture at the University of Minnesota. I covered his lecture and interviewed him briefly. His name was Ariel Sharon. First story I ever got published…
So your parents met in the service. Where did you meet your husband?
In a bar.
It was called the Left Guard. It was in Bloomington but it doesn’t exist anymore. He came up to me, and the rest is history.
We went to Frogtown for our first date. We went to see a movie, Barbra Streisand I think it was, in The Way We Were.
How did he propose? You know, it wasn’t any fancy proposal, he just said “well, we’re going to live together for a year and if works out we probably should get married.”
And we did.