James Leslie (Les) Leyland died peacefully in Columbia View Lodge, April 8, 2012, at the age of 94. He was a resident there for the past year.
Born in Comox, June 22, 1917, Les, his two younger sisters, Betty and Kathleen, and his parents, Ernest and Charlotte Leyland, moved around Vancouver Island and Burnaby until he was age 6. In 1923 they moved to Anabele; Les’s father heading up the bricklaying crew at Cominco, and Les remained a Trail area citizen for the rest of his life.
In school, Les was artistic and keen on sports, becoming a cub sports reporter for the local paper. His athletic strengths included swimming, tennis and middle distance running. As a teenager and throughout his life, Les pursued his interest in society management (Technocracy), nutrition, alternative religious philosophies, and lost civilizations (Dr. Rogers, Edgar Cayce, Theosophy, Rosicrucian’s, Atlantis, Mu). After high school graduation, Les got a job with the CM&S (Teck). He was proud of being amongst the early members of the Mine Mill Union local. He married a local girl, Dorothy Hall, in 1939 and they settled in the area (Robson, Sunningdale, and Fruitvale) to raise their family. During the war, Les took leave from Cominco to serve in the Royal Canadian Air Force. After the war, he attended the Vancouver School of Art as a part of his Veteran’s benefits. Upon completion of art school, he returned to work at Cominco until retirement, with 41 years of service.
Since becoming a widower in the mid ‘60’s, Les took to the road in his various jalopies visiting his children across Canada, and being rescued from the side of roads. Thousands of slides and photographs document his every move and all events attended. In between objectionably candid family photos are many photos showing his considerable artistic talents.
When the BC Seniors Games came to Trail in 1989, Les reignited his passion for middle distance running. He attended most games since, and expanded his competition to include national and international events. He currently holds several Canadian records in middle distances in various age categories, and has won many medals at B.C., Canadian, USA and world championship events. He is on the Home of Champions monument, and was named Kiwanis Athlete of the Year in Trail for 2004. Athletic competition gave Les a passion throughout the latter third of his life, providing excellent friendships and travel adventures around the world. These new friends allowed him to reuse his colloquial phrases with great reception. Phrases like, “That’s funner, I resemble that remark, That’s my favorite fruit, It’s amusin’ but confusin’, That’s Kickapoo Juice, It knocks my hat right off, That’s the best soup in ten counties, It gives you curly teeth, Them’s vitamins in there….” were received with endearment, versus rolled eyes, as his family was prone to do. Les was loved by the family dogs who regularly accompanied him on his long walks and runs.
In the past few years, Les’s mobility slowed, and his legendary, lifelong forgetfulness became less of an avoidance-of-responsibility tactic and more of a reality. He attended Bridges for the past two years, and spent the past year as a resident of Poplar Ridge, then Columbia View Lodge. The family thanks Dr. Phillips, the staff at Poplar Ridge, and Columbia View Lodge for caring so much for Dad/Grampa Les.
He is predeceased by his wife, Dorothy, son Grant, his parents and sisters. He is survived by his 6 children Wendy, Barb, Rick (Brenda), Scott (Irene), Betty Ann, Don (Charlene), 9 grandchildren and spouses, 8 great grandchildren, and Gwen and her daughters, plus his son-in-law, Ron Ray
A celebration of life will be held at Columbia View Lodge, 2 pm, April 21. Cremation has taken place. His family will gather this summer to spread his ashes. Al Grywacheski of Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Services™ has been entrusted with arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, go for a walk/run, eat a carrot, read the comic strip, do a crossword and think of Les. If you wish, donations to the Music Therapy program of the Columbia View Lodge Recreation Therapy dept. would be appreciated.
You are invited to leave a personal message of condolence at the family’s online register at www.myalternatives.ca