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Leslie Leroy Pernsley Sr. was born in Marcus Hook, Pa., on May 12, 1923, to the late Leslie Samuel Pernsley and Beatrice Demby Pernsley.
He passed away after a brief illness on Tuesday, June 12, 2012.
Les, as he was affectionately known, was the son of a farmer. He often bragged about how lucky he was to grow up on a 200-acre farm because that experience enabled him to learn how to do many things which he enjoyed doing.
Les was raised in West Chester. He graduated from West Chester High School in 1942. During his high school years, he was an honor roll student and a star athlete. He was captain of the school's track team and the cross country team. Numerous newspaper articles were written about his athletic ability, which included his record-breaking feats and his accomplishments as a participant in the Penn Relays.
In 1942, Les enrolled in West Chester State Teachers College. In 1943, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in
World War II
. He held the positions of technical sergeant and mechanic. He later returned to school and graduated from West Chester State Teachers College in 1948. It was in college that he met and eventually married the love of his life, the late Vernell Jenkins Pernsley.
They were married in 1946 and lived a wonderful married life in Philadelphia for 57 years until Vernell passed away in 2003. From this union, one son, Leslie Pernsely Jr., was born.
Les was an education major in college. After he graduated, he began his teaching career in Philadelphia at the Meade and Houston elementary schools. In 1954, he obtained a master's degree in educational administration. He later attended Temple University where received a Comprehensive Principalship Certificate in 1968. In 1970 he was appointed as principal of the Thomas Mifflin School, where he worked until he retired in 1985.
During his youth, Les attended St. Paul's Baptist Church in West Chester. In 1947, he was baptized and became a member of the Vine Memorial Baptist Church in Philadelphia, where his wife was also a member.
Les led a very active life. His favorite hobby was fishing. He participated in this activity as often as he could. Les told many "fish tales" but also had photos as proof his stories were not exaggerated. In addition to fishing, Les was an avid photographer. For many years, he was a freelance wedding photographer. He also loved to take pictures of family and friends, special events and scenic views.
Les was involved in many civic activities. He participated in the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. As a resident of West Mount Airy in Philadelphia, Les served as an officer of the West Mount Airy Neighbors for 25 years. During the 1960s and 1970s, he also served as a trustee at the Summitt Presbyterian Church. He was a member of the Philadelphia Lens Guild, which was an African-American photography club.
Les loved to "tinker" with things and could fix just about anything that was broken. He maintained a tool collection that rivaled any hardware store. On a personal level, Les was a organized person. He firmly believed that there was a place to put everything and everything should always be in its place. He never completed a task without "dotting every i and crossing every t."
Les had a warm and friendly personality. He enjoyed his family, his neighbors, and his friends. He was also played the role of a surrogate father to several of his family members. Les loved dining out at his favorite restaurants where he was always addressed by his name and seated at his favorite table.
From its inception in 1977, Les and his wife were also very active participants in the annual Bullock Family Reunion. After his wife passed away in 2003, he established the Vernell Pernsley Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers, which was administered by the National Bullock Family organization. Les will be missed, but his memory will live on in the hearts of those who knew and loved him.
Les is survived by one son, Leslie L. Pernsley, Jr.; one daughter-in-law, Crystal Blair-Pernsley; three grandsons, Leslie L. Pernsley III, Christopher N. Pernsley and David A. Blair; one great-granddaughter, Sophia L. Pernsley; two sisters, Ruth Hunt of Coatesville, and Beatrice Rucker of West Chester; three brothers, Leon Pernsley of Sacramento, Calif., and Donald Pernsley and Clarence Pernsley, both of West Chester; and a host of other relatives and friends.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 20, at Milestone Events LLC of the DeBaptiste Funeral Homes Inc., 600 E. Market St., West Chester.
A viewing will be held from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday.
Published in Daily Local News on June 18, 2012
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"Thank you for your kindness when I was briefly assigned to Mifflin School. God bless you ."
- Emilee Taylor
"Uncle Les you will truely be missed. DeBorah Hart"
- DeBorah Hart
"In memory of my Uncle Lesie, I always remember the siver dollars we always got from you and how you..."
- Valerie Hunt
"In loving memory of a wonderful man. We will love you and miss you always. Love Your Great Niece Qualisa..."
"God bless Mr. Pernsley, my teacher for two years at Houston. He was a wonderful teacher. He kept us..."
- Ruth Longo
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