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Alyce passed away on May 30, 2021 at her home in Sun City West, Arizona, with her devoted husband by her side.
Alyce was born on June 22, 1934, to Ruby and Hale Jacobson in Grand Forks, N.D. Young Alyce studied dance, including tap and ballet, a passion she passed on to her two granddaughters. As a young adult, she was stylish, ahead of her time, sewing her own clothes and always wearing the perfect hat. Alyce was a student of the world, constantly seeking to enrich her spirit and encourage those around her. She had an artistic eye that could see the hidden beauty and possibilities in everything. Even if that beauty was not readily apparent, Alyce enhanced it with her special touch. Whether it was her green thumb, inspired decorating, or mad cooking skills, her creativity never disappointed. As a talented artist, the subject matter of Alyce’s drawings and paintings centered on the beauty and magnificence of the natural world. She was truly gifted.
In 1956, Alyce married David Cameron Lees in Duluth, MN, having met him in Fargo, ND, where she spent her junior and senior year of high school living with her aunt Agnes. Following the wedding, she worked tirelessly for a financial group to support her husband through medical school, an internship, and an US Air Force stint. Three daughters and three cities later (Chicago, Duluth, and Tampa), the couple settled in the Minneapolis area, first in Bloomington, and then Edina. The Edina home, built in 1929, had been neglected and was the place where Ali got her chance to showcase her true creative vision. She worked diligently for years, remodeling on a limited budget, to turn the stark, under-loved house and garden into a home of beauty and warmth.
She also brought hospitality and ingenuity to the cottage where the family was blessed to spend many summer weekends. She loved to commune with nature in the gardens by morning, and mixed delightfully dirty and delicious vodka gimlets to share on the screened in porch in the afternoon!
Ali was an advocate for the environment and regularly appealed to state and national governments about issues close to her heart. She instilled care and respect for all living things in her children.
Her daughters remember her as an amazing role model and mother. She walked several miles every day, and took classes in art, photography, and yoga. She encouraged creativity and education of all kinds. She was a true advocate for her girls and a protective “Mama Bear.” Overall, she raised them in an environment that had no limitations and that inspired the pursuit of dreams.
Alyce is already greatly missed by the family she left behind, including: her husband Dr. David Cameron Lees, sister Nadine Jacobson Green, three daughters Kim Lees Rymer (Todd), Allison Lees Heater (Bobby), and April Lees Nilsen (Mark), grandson David Tricio (Stephanie), granddaughters Josi Nilsen, Kate Nilsen, great grandson Gavin Tricio, and many nieces, nephews, and extended family. Alyce was preceded in death by two of her sisters: Joan Jacobson Koch and Marilyn Jacobson Gerecke.
A Celebration of Life is being planned for late September or October in Minneapolis. In lieu of flowers, Alyce would like everyone who’s life she touched to pay it forward and uplift others.