Leonard ז״ל Slesinger
As a young child in Bishopville, South Carolina, Leonard Slesinger quickly learned the importance of family and community. When Leonard was nine, his mother died and his father became ill causing Leonard and his siblings to be separated. Leonard moved to Wilmington, Delaware where he was raised by his great aunt and uncle. During these years, Leonard understood the importance of family and the generosity of others. He was very grateful for being raised with positive Jewish experiences.
At sixteen, Leonard returned south and graduated from NC State in 1940. He enlisted in the Army during World War II rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He served in the China Burma India theatre and was awarded the Bronze Star. Following his army service, Leonard moved to Charlotte in the late 40’s, joining Dexter Chemical Corporation. Over the span of forty years, he increased the company’s sales in the south and added international markets including Israel.
Opinions differed about how Ann and Leonard met. He remembered first meeting at a Virginia Beach party having promised his aunt he would marry a Jewish girl, even if it meant traveling the east coast to find her. Ann remembered their first meeting to be at a fraternity dance at NC State. Ann saved the dance card to this event, forever substantiating the occasion. They married in November, 1949, and moved to Charlotte. Leonard immersed himself in his work, their family and the Charlotte Jewish community. When reflecting upon those early years in Charlotte, Leonard spoke about the generosity of others and how the Jewish community was so welcoming to him and his family.
Leonard had a special love for and devotion to Ann, who passed away in 1983 at the age of 59. He credited Ann with their beautiful family and warm, Jewish home which was the essence and core of his life. Her love of family was underscored by her commitment to raising their three children while his traveled many days each week for business.
Second only to his family (and perhaps his passion for golf), was his deep connection to the Jewish faith. Leonard showed his special commitment to Temple Israel at Ann’s death, when he established an endowment fund in her memory to provide for religious education. Upon Leonard’s death in 2015, his legacy gift was added to this fund, and it was renamed the Leonard and Ann Slesinger Education Endowment Fund.
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