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Leslie Oakland

1957 - 2018
Leslie Oakland Obituary
Leslie Oakland

Great Falls - Surrounded by her family, Leslie Oakland, 61, passed away peacefully on December 10, 2018 after a courageous battle with cancer.

Leslie was born May 26, 1957, in Great Falls, Montana, to Bob and Gladyce (Campbell) Oakland. The youngest of two children, Leslie made Great Falls her home her entire life. Leslie loved the high plains and the hard-working salt of the earth people who also called Montana and Great Falls home.

She attended Great Falls High School and continued her education at the University of Montana before becoming a realtor for a short time. During this time she was the youngest broker in the state. Leslie married the love of her life, John Thomas, June 14th, 1986, and raised the pride and joy of her life, two wonderful children, Cooper and Bailey. She also had the honor of being a stepmom to John's daughter, Aja. Her family was her life, and nothing made her happier than being with them.

Following her father's footsteps, Leslie was drawn to the family business in 1985, where she spent time working and learning all she could about the car business. She then served as General Manager and President of City Motor Company for the past 15 years. With her guidance and leadership, and with the support from dedicated City Motor Company employees, Leslie maintained the hallmark of quality service. Over the years the company received numerous accolades and awards including the Toyota President's Award, the Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award for the State of Montana, and Quality Truck Dealer Award for Montana.

Leslie had a light-hearted and playful side that was present especially during "girls' trips" to Seattle and Scottsdale, and family vacations to Bigfork, Hawaii and Disney World. She loved planning and organizing family and community events that brought joy to others. Hosting the Special Olympics Montana Summer Games Dance and Carnival was one of her annual highlights. Family and friends enjoyed orbiting around Leslie's welcoming personality and caring nature.

While challenged in her final days, Leslie had nothing but good humor and grace. It's been said that "Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly". Selfless as she was, Leslie is one of those angels who opened her wings to lighten everyone's day.

Though she was never one who cared to be the center of attention, Leslie championed many causes and charitable organizations. As a servant leader, one could find Leslie being among the first to raise her hand and lead by example, giving generously of her time, talent and treasure. Whether fighting for the rights of battered women, helping marginalized people with intellectual disabilities find their voice and rightful place in our communities, funding science research to cure disease, or creating opportunities for school-aged children to discover, learn and grow, Leslie was there to see the opportunities and be part of the solution.

A few organizations Leslie helped enrich and transform included Special Olympics Montana, the Great Falls Public Schools Foundation, McLaughlin Research Center, Mercy Home, Easter Seals/Goodwill, Eagle Mount, Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute, Montana State University - Northern, United Way, Great Falls Development Authority, Montana Auto Dealers Board and the First Interstate Bank Great Falls Advisory Board. Wherever there was a need, Leslie could be found at the epicenter of all that was good. She inspired many to be their best selves.

Leslie is survived by her husband John Thomas; children Cooper and Bailey Thomas, stepdaughter Aja Thomas; parents Bob and Gladyce Oakland; sister Kris Houtonen; niece Ashley (Richie) Whitney; brother in law Bob (Lynette) Thomas; brother in law, Bill Thomas; and various nieces and nephews. Leslie was preceded in death by her uncle Lester Oakland, her husband's parents William and Francis Thomas, and her sister-in-law Valerie Belden Thomas.

A celebration of life is scheduled for Saturday, December 29, 11:00 a.m. at the Mansfield Theater, Great Falls, followed by a reception at the Meadow Lark Country Club in Great Falls.

During this season of reflection and renewal, we're reminded what a gift Leslie was and how much "Joy to the World" she brought to so many lives. There couldn't be a more appropriate time of year to celebrate Leslie's life than Christmas. This was her favorite time of year.

Our family extends a profound heartfelt thank you to Patty Rice who has been an intimate part of our family for nearly 20 years, providing around the clock support during Leslie's final challenge, and to Benefis Grandview and Peace Hospice staff who provided dignified care during Leslie's final days. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to a .

The obituary and guest book are available online at: Schnider Funeral Home, Condolences may be sent to the family in care of: City Motor Company, 3900 10th Ave S, Great Falls, MT 59405.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Dec. 16, 2018
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