OLYMPIA - James William Leslie, 90, known to his family and friends as Jim (and to some as Boompa), died in Olympia on Nov. 9, 2004. He was born to Glenn Ellsworth Leslie and Hanna Theresa (Bliss) Leslie in Joseph, Ore., on Dec. 24, 1914. He lived in Joseph through grade school, then moved to LaGrande, Ore., where he lived for the next 20 years. During his time in LaGrande he began his 41-year career in banking as a teller in the First National Bank of Oregon.
His banking career was temporarily halted in 1940 when he was called to duty in the Army's 41st Infantry Division during World War II. He saw some of the toughest fighting in the South Pacific with five amphibious landings in New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines. During that time he earned five air medals, a bronze star and a purple heart. He advanced from the rank of private to major in five short years. This time resulted in some of the closest and finest friendships of his life.
While he was stationed at Ft. Lewis, he took a brief leave to marry Marguerite Elizabeth Sampson in Olympia on May 20, 1941. When the war ended, the couple moved to Nyssa, Ore., where they started their family with the birth of Rosalie in 1947. They then moved to Ontario, Ore. in 1949 where Laura was born in 1951 and Roger in 1952.
In Ontario, Mr. Leslie was president of the city council, the Kiwanis Club and the Elks Club, and was an active member of the First Methodist Church. He had coffee nearly every day with a rowdy crew of miscreants at the Moore Cafe, where in-depth analysis of local sporting events was a key topic. During the last years of his career he was made vice president of First Interstate Bank and was elected president of the Oregon Bankers' Association. When he retired in 1976, he was honored as Grand Marshal of the Christmas Fairyland Parade.
Upon retirement, Mr. and Mrs. Leslie moved to Ocean Park where, in his own words, he excelled at clam digging, salmon fishing, blueberry picking and slug killing.
He was much loved by many people and will be greatly missed. He, in turn, loved many people and leaves a fine legacy of humor, compassion, integrity and grace.
Mr. Leslie was preceded in death by his wife, Marguerite, in December 2002. He is survived by his brother, S. Bliss Leslie of Lake Oswego, Ore.; sister, Joanne L. Henrichson of San Diego, Calif.; daughters Leslie Perkins of Battleground and Rosalie This of Olympia; son, Roger Leslie of Seattle; granddaughter Annie Klein of Olympia, grandsons, Matthew Perkins, Joseph Perkins and Jonathan Perkins of Battleground, and Thom Bailey of Seattle; great-grandsons Scotty and Jaymes Klein of Olympia. There are also numerous beloved nieces and nephews and their families.
A memorial services will be held on Nov. 20 at 1 p.m., at the First United Methodist Church of Olympia, 1224 Legion Way, S.E., in Olympia. Donations can be made to the church or to the American Cancer Society.