Cover photo for Rhonda Lee~Desautels's Obituary

Rhonda Lee~Desautels

May 27, 1959 — February 25, 2024

Columbia, South Carolina

Rhonda Joy Lee-Desautels of Columbia, South Carolina passed away on February 25, 2024 after a battle with breast cancer. 

Rhonda was born on May 27, 1959 to Dean and Joy Lee in Seattle, Washington. At the age of sixteen she graduated Heights High School, Wichita, Kansas in 1975. She went on to study Chemical Engineering at Kansas State University, graduating in 1982. From 1982 to 1985 she was a Materials Engineer at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She decided more schooling was in order and received a Master’s in Material Science from the University of Oklahoma in 1987. But why not more school? In 1993 she earned her PhD in Chemical Engineering from The Ohio State University.

After graduating with her PhD, she started a career with International Paper Co. Technology department, located in Mobile Alabama, from 1994 to 1997. However, Rhonda’s true passion was academics.  In 1997 she took a job at the University of Kentucky, Paducah Extension as a Chemical Engineering Professor. Family responsibilities then led to a teaching position in the mathematics department at Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis, Tennessee. When the family moved to Columbia, South Carolina, Rhonda took a professor position teaching mathematics at Midlands Technical College. She retired January 2024.  Rhonda was passionate about teaching and touched the lives of many students.

In 1994, Rhonda met Michael Desautels on a job site in Natchez, Mississippi.  Rhonda and Michael had two children Joy Renee, born in 1997, and John Michael, born in 2000. Rhonda loved her children and wanted nothing more than for them to be happy and compassionate people.

Rhonda was predeceased by her father Robert Hustead, her nephew Ian Myers, and her grandparents. She is survived by her mother Joy Hustead of Wichita, Kansas. Three sisters, Ramona Barr of Conroe, Texas, Renee Hustead of Wichita, Kansas, and Rebecca Ward of Layton, Utah. She was also fortunate enough to have five step brothers and sisters. Russell Hustead of Payson, Arizona, David Hustead of Overland Park, Kansas, Judy Hustead of Charlotte, North Carolina, Joanne Hustead of Bethesda, Maryland, and Barbara Conn of College Station, Texas. Rhonda is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Rhonda love spending time with her family and strived to (and accomplished) having a welcoming home. She loved her children and adored her grandchildren Layla and Atticus. She embodied the best of qualities: unconditional love, strength, grace, and an unending generosity that could be seen in her care for her husband, children, grandchildren, and all her children’s friends.

Rhonda will be laid to rest during a graveside service on Thursday, March 7, 2024 at 1:00 pm at Memorial Lakeview Mortuary & Cemetery, 1640 East Lakeview Drive, Bountiful, Utah. A celebration of Rhonda’s life party will be held in Columbia, South Carolina at a soon to be determined date. 

In lieu of flowers, you can donate to one of two organizations Rhonda was passionate about Women’s health care and the protection of the environment. Donations can be made to Planned Parenthood of Columbia, South Carolina, or your local Planned Parenthood (!/donation/checkout) or The Nature Conservancy ( 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Rhonda Lee~Desautels, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Thursday, March 7, 2024

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Mountain time)

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Memorial Lakeview Mortuary & Cemetery

1640 Lakeview Dr
Bountiful, UT 84010

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