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August 23, 1937 - January 5, 2023

Lee Mintzlaff, 85, of Menlo Park, CA., passed away on Thursday, January 5, 2023, after a brief struggle with aggressive cancer.

Lee was better known as his nickname “Coach”. Virtually everyone he met referred to him as Coach, and the legend of its creation as a nickname grew over time. Some said it was his love for Vince Lombardi, longtime coach of the Packers. Others referenced his stints actually coaching community and youth sports. The most credible story involved employee team members at United Airlines, where he supervised ground crews and viewed his role as the “coach of the team”, helping to train and organize everyone to get the best performance possible.

Regardless of its origin, Coach Mintzlaff was the man we all knew and loved.

Coach was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, in August of 1937 and raised by Al and Lily Luedke. He grew up with his beloved brother Roger, who preceded him in death.

After high school, he spent a short time in the U.S. Army before beginning work in 1956 with United Airlines at Midway Airport in Chicago. He stayed in Chicago for several years, then transferred to Sea-Tac airport in Seattle, where he spent the bulk of his 38-year career.

His first marriage was to Joyce in 1964. Coach and Joyce had two children, Todd (55) and Craig (53). He was a devoted father, and his love of travel and family (together with his flight benefits) allowed him to take his family on many travels around the world.

Coach married Nancy Waslenko in August of 1984 in Seattle, Washington. Coach and Nancy moved to the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle, where they remodeled a house with a large deck and spectacular views of downtown and Mount Rainier. Nancy’s daughter Lisa, and son Brett, and Lisa’s family were quickly swept into Coach’s loving embrace and became part of his family. After Seattle, Coach and Nancy lived in the Las Vegas area for several years, then moved to the Broomfield, Colorado area, before moving to Menlo Park, California several years ago to be closer to Lisa and her family.

Coach retired young in his 50s from United and in the years following retirement, he enjoyed keeping busy with part-time jobs. These jobs included the Seattle Mariners baseball team and a local pizza chain in Seattle. But mostly his energy was channeled into cheering for and traveling around the country to watch his beloved—though terribly frustrating to him at times—Green Bay Packers.
Another of Coach’s life passions was the game of golf. For Coach, golf was a great way to stay connected to his United Airlines buddies and other friends that he made in the various cities where he lived. When pressed after a cocktail or two, most of his golf friends would agree that he had one of the most bizarre swings around, yet was weirdly successful at sending the ball down the middle of the fairway.

Being a kind and dependable spouse, father, and grandfather were of the utmost importance to Coach, and everyone in his orbit benefited from his love and support. His friends and extended family members were also welcomed by Coach into his broad circle of love, and everyone in that circle felt like they were just as important to him as his own sons.

In addition to his wife, Nancy of 37 years, Coach is survived by his two sons Todd (Nicole) and Craig (Theresa); his stepdaughter Lisa (Bruce); his nephews Kevin and Wayne; and five grandchildren, Adler, Kate, Zachary, Annalise, and Andrea.

The memorial service will be held at Trinity Church in Menlo Park, CA on Saturday March 18, 2023. Additional information will be available as the date nears, with a reception to follow the service at Bruce and Lisa Deal’s house. Please plan to join us in the celebration of his life if you are able. You can contact deallisa@gmail.com or craig@endurancesportsmarketing.com for additional information.

If you wish, you can remember Coach via memorial donations to Humane Prison Hospice Project (HPHP), a non-profit where Lisa is the Executive Director. HPHP works to provide compassionate end-of-life care to incarcerated people in California prisons, where prisoner populations are quickly aging. Donations can be made at www.humaneprisonhospiceproject.org .

Please also feel free to add a comment or a photo to this obituary page.

Ultimately, Coach made the world a much better place and will be missed.

Go Pack Go!

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