MAILED: April 11, 2001
During the summer before his death, when asked what he would do with the last five minutes of his life, Edward (Ted) Leslie responded,
"I will continue to learn."
Those who were close to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire junior, a promising young artist who died Oct. 15, 2000, after a lengthy battle with cancer, say Leslie's response was very much in character.
"He didn't just echo those words, he lived them," said Sandra Starck, assistant professor of art at UW-Eau Claire.
"Even in the last few weeks that Ted was with us on this planet, he was interested in carrying on his studies," noted Starck, who became Leslie's academic adviser when she arrived at the university at the start of his sophomore year.
Now, an endowed scholarship established in Leslie's memory seems a fitting gift from the young artist to UW-Eau Claire art students for years to come.
Pamela Meyer, a senior art major from Antigo, was named the first recipient of the Edward Haugen
"Ted" Leslie Memorial Art Scholarship April 10 at an awards ceremony during the opening of the UW-Eau Claire 44th Annual Juried Student Art Show. The $1,000 scholarship will be applied to Meyer's fall 2001 tuition and fees.
Those who attend the art show, which runs through May 1 in Foster Gallery of the Haas Fine Arts Center, can also view some of Leslie's final works.
"A Tribute to Ted Leslie: Prints and Drawings from Ted's Final Works" will be displayed in Foster Gallery and in the Skylight Lounge, Davies Center.
Leslie, a native of Roseville, Minn., was pursuing a philosophy minor along with his art major. He was deeply interested in the study of the humanities, and that interest influenced his art.
"Ted Leslie's artwork was autobiographical in nature," said Scott Robertson, UW-Eau Claire professor of art.
"As an art student, he incorporated the knowledge he gleaned from many of his humanities courses into his artwork."
"There was also a deeply transcendental quality evident in his prints, drawings and paintings, for his artwork was always about the spirit rather than the material," Robertson said.
Leslie's father and mother, Jim Leslie of Falcon Heights, Minn., and Naomi Haugen of Roseville, Minn., agreed with Robertson's description of their son's approach to his art.
"Ted was a profound thinker who had a genius for fusing philosophical ideas with artistic expression in his artwork," Jim Leslie said.
"In reality, the art is just part of who Ted was," said Haugen, noting that her son had diverse interests and found art as a means to express the many thoughts his interests generated.
"He was artistic in the very broadest sense," she said.
Ted Leslie's parents and teachers found it remarkable that he remained dedicated to his artwork throughout his difficult cancer battle.
"I am and always will be amazed at Ted's artistic production during the school year of 1999-2000," said Jim Leslie.
"Keep in mind that Ted was on some kind of chemotherapy protocol that entire school year."
"When I think about what he was going through," said Haugen,
"those intense treatments, and then to find out repeatedly that they weren't workinghe was so even and calm about it all, and he managed it with such wisdom."
"I have a vivid memory of Ted working on a painting at the Haas Fine Arts Center that he wanted to finish before his cancer prevented him from doing so," said Jim Leslie.
"This was only several days before he lapsed into a coma from which he would never recover."
The decision to establish an art scholarship in their son's name was an easy one, Haugen and Jim Leslie said.
"We wanted a way to make a lasting tribute that would carry Ted's name,"
Haugen said. "There will always be someone who is able to study art who would not have been able to, because of (the scholarship)."
"The scholarship will mean that Ted's presence at UW-Eau Claire will live on through the scholarship winners," Jim Leslie said.
Ted Leslies presence also lives on in the minds of those who knew and worked with him.
"Ted was an intelligent and caring person who was wise far beyond his years," Robertson said.
"He is greatly missed by all of us who knew and loved him."
Starck found inspiration from Ted Leslie's drive in the face of the knowledge that his life would soon end.
"He never gave up," she said. "He just kept wanting to learn."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: April 11, 2001