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LESLIE HAYES RUSSO SALISBURY, Md. - Leslie Hayes Russo passed into the infinite sea of light surrounded by her oldest (Katie) and newest friends (Kimberly), her loving husband and lifelong protector, Christopher J. Russo Jr., in a state of holy grace and peace. Born on the 20th of January 1955, Leslie acquired her first real estate from Sara Maharg Christy at the age of 3 - a house of sunflowers, high on a hill in Pennsylvania. This gift of love, from her maternal grandmother, was cherished and passed down to her by her own mother, Jennie Christy Hayes, who sang her sweetness into her. She had a split in her two front teeth, a refrigerator with pretend food, and became an Olympic gold medalist Monopoly player at age 5. The nuns at Holy Family Church taught her how to work hard and love God, and be, on the whole, a good girl. When her family moved away from Washington, DC and Hillcrest Heights, Md. to the green mountains of Vermont because her Dad (Justice Thomas Lawlor Hayes) wanted to run for Lt. Governor, she worked every day to help him win. Her luggage had stickers from Ireland and Italy, she shared a speaking stage with William Jefferson Clinton, soon to be the 42nd president of the United States. She crafted legislative amendments and pies with equal aplomb. Leslie, in the fullness of time, became a lover of hydrangeas; a poet, singer of songs, political activist, tree hugger, cat herder, caretaker, hostess with the mostess, avenging angel of justice, U.S. Senator's aide, appellate attorney, champion of the underdog, author of children's stories, godmother of three. She gave one brother (Ricky) the gift of self esteem, the other (Kevin) care he needed to survive. She forgave 70 times seven, loved justice, hated war, loved art and music, and parties and a good joke more than anything else, except her husband, Christopher Russo and her nieces, Jennie Hayes and Paige Smith and nephew, William O'Connell. A lover of kitsch, lost souls, stray dogs, impressionistic paintings, anecdotes, antique toys, craft fairs, courtroom and appellate victories, she never, ever lost her sense of humor to her dying day. Her last home before heaven, Salisbury, Md. was her favorite - the birds of Blackwater Creek, the waves at Assateague, the golden days of spring, the boardwalk at O.C., the migrating magpies in her backyard, and her pals at Otway Russo, Jim, Amy, Luke, Carol, Christiana, Fay, Judy and her pets, Gracie, Stinky, Wally, Ollie and Peanut. She paid in this life for all wrongs done and repented each one. She would ask, accordingly, your forgiveness. Perhaps when you see a field of flowers you may count each one as a kindness she did and this will make it easier. Her father used to tell a story about soldiers huddled around a fire in a town laid waste by war outside a church where there was a statue of Christ with the arms broken off. A soldier had placed a sign in front of it. "The only hands he has are yours." So, now the only hands she has are yours. If you need a monument for her, look around, you are her monument, the we of she, a monument o f love. The family at this time would like to express its heartfelt gratitude to Leslie's caretakers, her husband, Chris and her brother, Ricky, and her sisters-inlaw, Karen and Barbara Russo and Ann Pugh and her cousins, Maureen Kingston, Claudia and Patricia Christy, for their boundless love in time of crisis. The family would also like to thank the nurses and staff of Salisbury PRMC in particular Mary McGarry, Lauren, Dawn, Leah, Rod, Kim, Vicky, Jill, Tannie, Beth and Marty to whom the family will be grateful as long as the sky is blue. A memorial mass will be held Friday, Nov. 5, 2010 at 11 a.m. at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Salisbury, with visitation one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Farm Sanctuary, P.O. Box 150, Watkins Glen, NY 14891 or World Society for the Protection of Animals, Lincoln Plaza, 89 South Street, Suite 201, Boston, MA 02111. Arrangements are in the care of Holloway Funeral Home, P.A., 501 Snow Hill Rd., Salisbury, MD 21804. Please visit www. to express condolences to the family.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Nov. 2, 2010
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