LEEDS - Leslie Kirker Hershkowitz, 88, died Friday, July 26, 2013, at the Overlook Nursing Home in Leeds, after a seven year struggle with Alzheimer's disease.
The daughter of Lois Lawton and James Kirker, Leslie was born Dec. 16,1924, in Fall River, and grew up in Assonet, before entering Durfee High School in Fall River, from which she graduated in 1942, having formed several lifelong friendships there, which she renewed over the years at the annual Durfee reunions in Fall River.
After Durfee, Leslie graduated in 1944 from Bryant College (now Bryant University) in Providence, R.I., in an accelerated wartime curriculum. She worked in the athletics department at Brown University and rose to become the executive assistant to Ron Wolk, vice-president of the university, with an office in Historic University Hall.
Leslie had a beautiful voice and sang with the Rhode Island Civic Chorale. She married George Hubbard and raised three sons, Paul, Preston and James.
In 1979, the Carnegie Corporation recruited Mr. Wolk to move to Washington, D.C., to edit and publish Education Week, a new national newspaper of record for all educational activities through the high school years. Leslie joined Mr. Wolk in this endeavor as director of advertising for the paper, until her retirement in 1990. She had divorced Mr. Hubbard many years before her move and her three sons were adults.
In 1984 in Washington, Leslie met Dr. Melvin Hershkowitz, a divorced physician on the faculty of the George Washington University School of Medicine. After a two year courtship and friendship, Leslie and Dr. Hershkowitz were married April 26, 1986, in the Church of the Pilgrims in Washington, D.C. They lived in Foggy Bottom, near the George Washington University campus, Kennedy Center, and Georgetown. They enjoyed visits to Washington museums, Georgetown restaurants, and events at the Kennedy Center.
After Leslie retired from education week in 1990, and Dr. Hershkowitz retired in 1991, they moved in June of 1992 to Providence, R.I., where many of Leslie's old friends gave them a warm welcome. Leslie became a parishioner at the Central Congregational Church and joined the Hamilton House, an organization of senior citizens, where she pursued her hobby of caning and restoring an antique Civil war era chair. Leslie renewed her membership in the Freetown Historical Society in Assonet, where for several years she and her husband attended the annual open house festivities, renewing ties with old friends from her childhood.
Dr. Hershkowitz taught at the Brown Medical School for 12 years until 2004, during which Leslie made several new friends on the medical school faculty. She joined Dr. Hershkowitz on his frequent visits to his daughter Marie's home in Northampton, where she loved picking wild blueberries and doing crossword puzzles with her step-grandson Samuel Hathaway.
In 2007, Leslie began to show signs of early Alzheimer's disease. Her symptoms gradually increased, and after caring for her at home from 2008 to 2009, Dr. Hershkowitz (and Leslie herself) realized that she would need to live in an institution. She entered the Steere House Nursing Home in Providence in February 2010 and remained there until Sept. 27, 2010, when she and her husband moved to Northampton, where she was admitted to the Overlook Nursing Home in the adjacent town of Leeds. Dr. Hershkowitz continued his daily visits to Leslie, who would often smile in recognition of his affectionate greetings. Despite her grave impairments, Leslie continued to recognize her husband during his visits and continued to call him by name, "Melvin", on many occasions. She also recognized and smiled at visits from step-daughter Marie and her family. July 26, 2013, Leslie died at the Overlook Nursing Home from a severe infection, unresponsive to treatment.
She received devoted and attentive care from the Overlook nursing staff and from the V.N.A. Hospice Staff in Northampton.
Leslie was predeceased by her parents, her first husband George Hubbard, her sister Annah Ganley and by a brother James Kirker.
She is survived by her husband Dr. Melvin Hershkowitz and her three sons, Paul Hubbard of Providence, R.I., Preston Hubbard of St. Louis, Mo., and James Kirker of Hyde Park. She is also survived by her devoted step-daughter Marie Hershkowitz; her step-son-in-law Stephen Hathaway; her step-grandsons Benjamin Hathaway and Samuel Hathaway; her step-son-in-law Paul Hershkowitz; her step-daughter-in-law Judith Hershkowitz; and her step-granddaughters Ann Green and Mary Farkas.
Donation's in Leslie's memory may be sent to any of the following; Bryant University, 1150 Douglas Pike, Smithfeld, RI 02917, (401)232-6000; Central Congregational Church, 296 Angell St., Providence, RI 02906, (401)331-1960; Freetown Historical Society, 1 Slab Bridge Road, Assonet, MA 02702, (508)644-5310 or Overlook Nursing Home, 222 River Road, P.O. Box 313, Leeds, MA 01053, (413)584-8457.
Plans for a memorial service for Leslie will be announced at a later date.
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