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Stories about Leslie - Page 2

Karen Musgrave McGraw 


Leslie was a dear childhood friend. We met at Henry Elementary school, and every year competed good-naturedly to see who would have the highest scores on the aptitude tests. I have many fond memories of Leslie:


  • The time we tried to start a neighborhood fair. I don’t know how much time we spent planning booths, finding prizes, and designing tickets. I think her sister Sheri and my sister Debbie were the only kids to go to the fair, which may have had one or two booths. It was a complete failure, but fun, too. And it was the planning and dreaming that made it fun.

  • I remember the two of us sitting together in the back of Mr. William’s fifth grade classroom, grading tests, filling out his grade book, and figuring out grade averages. My mother, the teacher and principal, was shocked when she found out we worked in his official grade book. I think he had the two of us do it because he trusted that we knew what we were doing, and that we would keep an eye on each other, keeping each other in check.

  • Then there was the first day of seventh grade. On my way to school, I was walking up 3rd Street, when Leslie appeared walking next to the arroyo. She was meeting another girl, Karen Wainwright, who came from the north side of the arroyo. We met a fourth girl, Jenny Woods at her house and all walked together to Magee Junior High. For the next two years we walked or rode our bikes to and from school together and ate every lunch together. We were an instant clique. 


There were many birthday parties, sleepovers, laughs, and even fights. Girls that close don’t always get along—especially when they are as feisty as Leslie and I were! We may have had our squabbles, but our friendship was never in question. 


Though Leslie and I both went to Sahuaro High School, my involvement in the performing arts kept me on one side of campus while Leslie was on the other. We didn’t have a single class together, but I always considered her my dear friend.


There are many, many more memories—too many to try to share—but they are playing through my mind as I type these words and see the lovely photos of Leslie on the memorial page. 


I’ll close with one more memory, my first memory of Leslie. I moved to Henry Elementary halfway through fourth grade. Within a week or two of being there, Leslie brought a beautiful doll for Show and Tell. As I recall, the doll was a gift she’d been given when her family lived in England. She went on to tell about her sister Sheri being born in England, and that her parents were driving to Germany to celebrate. (Leslie and Sheri stayed behind in England with a sitter.) While driving, a car veered in front of her parents' car, heading straight toward them. Leslie’s mother, was so frightened, her heart stopped. Though the cars did not in fact collide, her mother was literally scared to death.


It’s been many years, and I hope you’ll forgive me if I got some of the details of this story wrong. But this is what I remember. The other thing, the more important thing to me, was the way Leslie was so clam and composed as she told the story. She told the story with obvious love for her family, but she did so in such a mature and eloquent manner. I was so taken with her. I knew she was someone with whom I wanted to be friends.


I’m blessed to have been friends with Leslie, and saddened to think the world has lost her at such a young age. In the last week, I’ve run into a few friends from high school, and we’ve consoled each other. We are all saddened by this loss. She will always be remembered. We will always honor her at our reunions. 


And she will always have a very special place in my heart.


God be with you all at this sad time.


Leslie, I love you! 



Derek J. J. Whipple


I have known Dr. Ashbaugh, otherwise known as, “That’s Our Leslie!” for about twenty years. Leslie was a very complex person:  she had definite, hard-set positions and was always very passionate about what she believed in; but she was also open to being subtly swayed through logical argument.  The two of us had some deep philosophical differences and did not always see things eye-to-eye. She was not so good with money, or, more accurately, rather unreliable when it came to informing others regarding an item’s, or service’s, true cost:  “It was just $25!” often meant $25 down, and $25 more every month for the rest of your life…


But, Leslie was a dear friend. She was one of my wife’s best friends and confidants. She was a wonderfully loving “aunt” to my children; always having plenty of, “the best snacks EVER!” She was always up for a joyous celebration:  the “Friday after Thanksgiving Day” gatherings at the French/Ashbaugh household are among my all-time favourite memories. She was a positive and energetic-dynamo; “No,” was NEVER an option when she was involved. She could command a room through her very presence:  a force of nature. And, she brought Jason, Peter and Elly into my life and I am very grateful for that.


My favourite aspect of Leslie was her story-telling ability:  She could mesmerize; weaving an intriguing tale full of drama and suspense, with her voice rising and falling just so, while her eyes flashed at the critical moments -  even if the subject matter was as mundane as “I met so-and-so in the checkout line of PCC.”  It was truly a magical gift!


My favourite memory of Leslie was from one of our “The Entire Neighborhood Goes Camping” camping trips.  It was post-breakfast, after the children had eaten and run off; and there stands Leslie, her camping mug in hand, half-filled with diluted, lukewarm, camp-fire coffee, and she boldly announces to the group: “Derek and I would have been the PERFECT couple.  He could have ALL the chocolate, and I could have ALL the coffee!”


And, with one final “air” hug, I say:

Good-bye, Lizardly; may you rest in peace.



Godwin Tembo


I write this with enormous grief over the unbelievable loss of a close friend and mother, to cancer. She fought a brave and tough battle, but the cancer would not allow her to get better. She took each day in step, never really complaining, always feeling weak hoping that the treatments would finally end so she could get on with her life. This was my hope too.  Her words still descend down my soul,

“Dear Reverend Godwin Tembo,
Many thanks for your inquiry into my health at the University of Washington. The office informed me of your concern and I am so grateful.
I have been quite ill these past several months and not keeping up with correspondence. Sadly, the cancer continues to spread and while I am so grateful to an excellent Doctor and a loving family, these matters are beyond our control.
I pray that my colleagues and friends in Zambia continue to do God's work in peace and harmony. I wish so very much that I could be more helpful through annual visits, since visiting the church in Mtendere provided my soul with the warmth it so craves. Sending my deepest respect and appreciation.
God bless you, Mr. Tembo.”

This beautiful mother, inside and out, was a wonderful friend to me, she encouraged me and helped me believe and trust God in the middle of difficult times. She had a gentle and caring personality. One of her beliefs in life was the importance of being real with people. I always admired how she valued each of the students she came with to Zambia and treated everyone just like her own biological children.

I at all times told her that she would be okay and not to worry though she knew that her condition was beyond human control. One time I asked her how I can be helped in my studies she looked at me with kindness and told me to stay focused and wait upon the Lord. She trusted God so much and believed that God is the provider. Each time she came to Zambia, our congregation was always in her mind. She came to pray with us in the company of a beautiful and lovely team of students. As if she knew that she would never come back to our church. The last time she spoke to us in church, her tears went down her cheeks as she encouraged everyone. Of course, she had memories of her late friend Mrs Rice who was a member of our congregation. But from her words we could see how loving and kind Leslie was and how she would love to support us.

Her beautiful spirit will live on with God Almighty through Jesus Christ. We loved her but God loved her most and called her to go and rest from the sufferings of this world. She tried with all her heart to stay for us, but God called her, and she had to go.

Thank you, mom for the life which God gave you and you impacted so many lives. Thank you for the support you rendered to us when you were alive on earth. If the world had mothers like you, then the world would be a better place to live. I can’t thank you enough for your kindness but God will grant you a special reward. Rest mom.

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