Obituary of Daniel Homer Lillengreen
7 October 1952 – 12 July 2023
Known as Sea Turtle, Tank, and Stanley, Dan Lillengreen dished out as many nicknames as he received.
Dan was born on the final day of the 1952 World Series in Spokane, Washington, to Homer and Ruth (Sagerser) Lillengreen and welcomed by older siblings, Bill and Kim. In that era, women were completely anesthetized during the birthing process, so when Ruth recovered, the nurses laughed when she first asked who won the series -- before asking about the baby (the Yankees clinched the title and the baby was a boy).
One of the earliest photos of Dan depicted him holding a man-sized baseball mitt. He continued to be athletic and interested in sports his entire life.
Dan’s small, God-centered family eventually moved to Eugene. He graduated from North Eugene High School in 1971 and was a real “run with scissors” type who boasted about being the first player knocked unconscious at Autzen Stadium during a NEHS football game.
After high school, Dan talked a few buddies into joining the US Army with him after Selective Services assigned him an incredibly low draft number. Though known as a tough guy around his neighborhood, Army Basic Training was the first time Dan had ever left his mother’s side. In later years, he made up for this three-year absence by spending nearly every weekend with his young sons in mama’s backyard.
Dan spent his early working years at the Monaco Coach Corporation where he met the love of his life, a fiery red-headed receptionist by the name of Karen Hawkins. She was a package deal with two beautiful young daughters who quickly dubbed him Stanley after a tool belt and a 70s sitcom actor.
Few men were as thrifty as Dan. Despite his father’s protests, Dan purchased an acre in the country outside of Junction City; the former dog shelter was repurposed into a home for their growing family.
Dan and Karen were married in his parents’ Santa Clara garden and eventually increased their family by two boys. Dan was a hard-working man who found his niche in retail as a warehouseman at the old Lane County Feed and Seed, and as a regional manager for Mini Pet Mart.
Even though Dan had the physique of a mountain gorilla with bear claws for hands, he was a loving father, son, and friend. His sense of humor was an oddity. He knew just what to say to make an uneasy situation even more uneasy, yet he was funny and endearing. His quirkiness was balanced with a deep love and devotion for the people in his life.
After 44 years of marriage, Dan’s world changed abruptly last November when Karen left to be with the Lord. Within months, Dan discovered his body was riddled with cancer. He found himself a widower with stage four lung cancer.
In the face of a dire prognosis, radiation treatments, and immobility, Dan fought until his last breath -- which he took in the presence of his children, his best friend Steve “Stub” Halvorson, and in the home his father warned him against buying 44 years before. Before passing, Dan was reminded to greet Karen in heaven first -- before seeking out his mother, Ruth.
Although brokenhearted, the family trusts it was God’s timing that he should leave us so quickly after Karen’s passing. But our father, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend will always be in our hearts.
Daniel Homer is survived by his children Dena (Kevin) Collman; Amy (Shane) Buck; Adam (Heather) Lillengreen; and Erik Lillengreen. He has ten grandchildren: Brilee, Preslee, Kingston, Sophie, Beckham, Bentley, Jacob, Ryan, Nyah, and Olivia.
He is also survived by his sister Kim Sass and his brother’s widow Jessie and their four children Andrea, Julie, Tami and Bill; and their nine children. One of his grand nephews, Daniel, is named for him. He was especially close to two cousins, Ruth (Shelton) Lemke and Donald Shelton, who survive.
To honor Sea Turtle, Tank, Stanley, and Dan, the family suggests you find a nickname for someone dear to you. It’s a gesture of love from a deep knowledge of that person. And it’s a commitment of affection – the kind he gave to us throughout his life.