Delbert Lee was born in Red Elm, South Dakota, on June 24, 1928. He grew up in South Dakota and Illinois.
During World War II, Lee served in the army on the German front. He later fought in the Korean War.
Following his military service, Lee settled in Belvidere, Illinois, to work at a sewing machine factory and later started a restaurant. Lee subsequently worked for Lien Chemical Company, which allowed him to travel to Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tampa, and Fort Smith. Eventually Lee moved to Lincoln, Washington County, Arkansas, where he bought a chicken farm and supplied Cornish hens to Tyson Foods. After several years, Lee sold his farm and retired in Viney Grove.