SHIRLEY JUNE (CARLSON) LESLIE remembrance ROCKFORD - Shirley June (Carlson) Leslie was born in Rockford, Illinois, on May 29, 1915. She was the daughter of Alfred Alexander Carlson, born June 19, 1881, in Rockford and Helene Wilhelmine Gauger-Carlson, born December 24, 1883, in Milwaukee. Shirley's favorite decade was the 1920s, a time of growth and prosperity in Rockford for Shirley and her older brother, Gauger "Pete" Carlson. Her father ran the Skandia Furniture Company for industrialist P. A. Peterson during those boom years. She spent much time with her extended family and Swedish grandmother while her mother played golf, cards, and sewed and cooked. She had a generous lifestyle and enjoyed volleyball, horseback riding and occasional trips to New York with her father. Shirley and her father especially enjoyed going to the movies together at the newly-opened Coronado Theater. When the depression hit Rockford she still was able to attend Beloit College and was worried about following her brother's straight-A record. She majored in French and pledged Delta Delta Delta. She stayed at home and took the bus in the winters and used the sorority house as a changing room for the many socials and dances. In her sophomore year she married a graduating senior from a prominent family and was given a grand wedding at Beloit Chapel. Within the year her husband died from a brain tumor and a stricken 20-year-old was back home. This time she lived outside of Rockford in the country on N. Mulford Road where her father built a log house on ten acres by Keith Creek that he called Brookwood. There she got a dog, a wire-haired Fox Terrier named Nicky, and did charity work with her sister in law. Her next marriage provided her the opportunity to model clothes and travel with her husband. When World War II came he went into the service and became an officer in the Air Force in India. The marriage faded and Shirley was back at Brookwood with her parents. She met Captain Fred E. Leslie when he was stationed at Camp Grant and a romance ensued. There was a baby-a son named Dan-and marriage and waiting for the war to end. After the war Fred went to the University of Chicago under the GI Bill. There they lived in Army barracks converted to student housing. Later there was work in Indiana, another baby-a son named Scott-and then to Dallas where she made lifelong friends and shared childrearing. In the 1950s, Fred was working for Dresser Industries and was transferred to an oil company in Whittier, California. Soon her parents followed her to California. She and her mother started a hospital guild for the Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital Auxiliary. She was the president of the La Habra Guild and spent many hours developing fashion shows and selling knits that she and her mother made. There is an acknowledgement of their thousands of hours of work at the hospital. In the 1960s they moved to Palos Verdes Estates to be close to Fred's work at Aerospace Corporation, and she grew to love the ocean and whale watching. She delivered books to the house-bound and spent time with her grandchildren. She spent many hours every day reading and writing, always working to improve herself. She attended the Church of Religious Science and took copious notes. She took classes in nutrition and interior decorating and always strived for perfection in her appearance and her home. She loved her cats, her flowers and her grandchildren and was generous with her time babysitting. Her formality and expectations were always a reflection of her favorite decade and she maintained them until she died at age 93 on April 3rd 2009.
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Published in Rockford Register Star from Nov. 9 to Nov. 10, 2013