Mary Carolyn Lesley
November 4, 2015
Mary Carolyn Lesley (née Pitchford) passed away after an extended battle with cancer at the age of 72 Sunday afternoon, October 25, 2015, at her home in Ashland, Oregon, surrounded by her loving family and dogs.
Mary began her wonderful life June 28, 1943. She grew up in Eugene with her four sisters and brother, graduated from South Eugene High School and attended the University of Oregon where she met her husband, Noel Adams Lesley. Mary and Noel were married on September 19, 1964, and moved to Ashland where they planted roots and began a new life together. They raised their 3 children at the same Ashland home that she lived for 42 years. She was a proud Oregonian and DUCK fan always. Noel preceded Mary by his passing in 2010.
Drive, determination, the ability to defy the odds and the will to move mountains were the characteristics that allowed Mary to thrive and succeed throughout her life. Mary lived life to its fullest and could turn any function into a party by her mere presence. Her smile lit up any room she entered and her home was always open and welcoming to her guests. Her titles include sister, friend, mom, homemaker, philanthropist and her favorite, Nana Mary. Mary loved her community and was seen at most charitable events. She loved a good auction and was known to drive up the values even if she was the only one bidding. She was passionate about giving back and found great pleasure in helping those organizations that furthered kids, animals or cancer research. Mary was most proud to be part of the Hillcrest Committee where she and her closest friends raised money for cancer research.
Mary had a profound love for all animals. Its unknown exactly how many dogs Mary has rescued over the years but the number is staggering by any standard. She loved them deeply and they knew it. Her passion for horses began at a very early age when she began showing with her father. As an early teen, Mary and her horse were invited to show at Madison Square Garden in New York. That event was a highlight of her life and defined her future. Most recently she and her daughter, Carolyn, founded Lesley Farms, where they own several Arabian Horses. This rekindled some deep lifelong friendships and gave Mary a purpose to focus her attention while battling her illness. This August, Mary traveled to Manitoba where their Arabian stallion, Monticello V, won the Canadian National Championship and was later invited to Central Park for the exclusive US Arabian Open in September where he was the Unanimous Champion. These accomplishments were the pinnacle of her horse career and she glowed whenever she was asked about them.
Mary LOVED home. She loved her flowers, garden, trees, plants and orchard. Her natural green thumb resulted in overflowing flowerbeds, pots and vases of flowers all over the house and property. Her gardens and back patio where the centerpiece for many Fourth of July parade parties, birthday celebrations or her dinner group.
Mary is survived by her children, James S. Lesley, his wife Mandie and children Tanner and Sofia of Kuna, Idaho, Nancy Louise Lesley of Aspen, Colorado, and Carolyn Elizabeth Lesley of Ashland, Oregon.