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1942

'42
Lee Seemann

Long before he became an early Warren Buffett investor and a wealthy philanthropist, Lee Seemann '42 was a 23-year-old from Omaha piloting a B-17 over Germany. Seemann, a decorated war hero who often called himself “an incredibly lucky guy,” died on June 2, 2015, in Omaha. He was 95.

Seemann was born May 10, 1920, in Minnesota, but his father, a car dealer, soon moved the family to Omaha. Lee attended Dundee Elementary and Central High, class of ’38. At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, he played football at Santa Clara University in California, where he took part in ROTC and was president of the senior class. After World War II, in which he survived a number of close calls, he met Willa Davis, who immediately liked him.

Seemann bombed the Normandy coast on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and flew his final mission on Aug. 9. Some 30,000 American airmen based in England died in the war, but Seemann enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with his mother in Omaha.

He received the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross (twice), the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters. He recounts his harrowing tales in his 1998 memoir with David Harding, titled I Thought We Were Goners.

Lee became a branch manager at International Harvester and later started his own business, Seemann Truck and Trailer.Willa’s father was a prominent Omaha urologist, Dr. Edwin Davis. He and the Seemanns, still in their 20s, invested with Buffett in the late 1950s and built large fortunes. Over the years, Lee and Willa Seemann have donated quietly to universities, hospitals, museums, churches and other charities. In the 1990s, they were major contributors to the Strategic Air & Space Museum. They also donated to his high school, and a decade ago Central named its new football facility Seemann Stadium.

 

The couple raised four children, but suffered the death of daughter Jane Seemann in a 1988 car crash in Omaha.
 

In 2000, Seemann underwent heart bypass surgery. In recent times he was in hospice care, and his wife said he died from various old-age ailments.

 

Besides his wife, he is survived by sons Lee Seemann Jr. of Omaha and Scott of Washington state; and daughter Ann Drickey of Palm Springs, California.
submitted Aug. 4, 2015 8:23A

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