Saturday, August 6, 2011

Losing Leslie

Fans of the blog know that I try to keep things upbeat and light because God knows, there's enough bad news in the air isn't it? But today, I feel compelled to share this with you.

This week, I lost someone very near and dear to my heart - award winning/New York Times Best-Selling author and my Soror Leslie Esdaile Banks at age 51. She wrote more than forty-two books I believe along with scores of novellas and articles.

Leslie was a phenomenal lady who loved life and stepped out on faith several years ago to launch her writing career (she was at one time employed in Corporate America). In spite of her successes, she still found time to mentor others and distribute some of the biggest hugs you could ever imagine.

I met Leslie in the late 1990s when I was employed at Temple University and she was working on her Master degree. We stayed in touch over the years and; as her career blossomed, she continued to make herself available for speaking engagements or just good sisterly conversation.

Even through Leslie was considered a "successful author," her healthcare expenses as a self employed single mom were outrageous - so much so that she wrote President Obama. He responded and afforded Leslie the honor of introducing him when he came to the Philadelphia area for a speaking engagement last year. The President committed to continue to the battle for universal healthcare and assured Leslie that things would get better.

Unfortunately, Leslie went into the hospital (believing that she was suffering from complications from diabetes) this winter and did not come out alive. 

Through the tears, I try to remind myself of what a powerful life force she was in the lives of so many people. It is my hope that I will positively influence on others in the same way.

She is survived by her daughter Helena.

If you're in the Philadelphia area this weekend, consider attending a Writer's Bash in Leslie's honor (proceeds will go to her remaining medical care expenses). The memorial service will take place in Philadelphia next Saturday afternoon and is open to the public.

Photo credit: This photo appeared in a 2010 edition of the Philadelphia Daily News. Leslie was featured as a "Sexy Single."