It is with great sorrow that the family of Mary (Russo) Leslie, announce the unexpected passing at the age of 85 on June 1, 2023 at Aspirus Wausau Hospital in Wausau, WI. Mary was born on October 8, 1937 in Chicago, IL.
In her early years, Mary was raised by her Greek grandmother and aunt. She learned from them about Greek heritage, culture and language which she passed on to her children and grandchildren. She excelled in school graduating in 1955 from Austin High School in Chicago receiving an academic full-ride college scholarship. On February 11, 1956, she married Thomas J. Leslie in Chicago where they started their family and had three sons. During that time Mary worked at Continental Bank and then as a homemaker.
In 1967, Mary and Tom moved their family to Mattoon, WI and later in 1971 to Birnamwood. In 1972, Mary’s husband Thomas died leaving her to raise their three young sons on her own. She then worked at the Bank of Birnamwood and after her sons were grown, at Wausau Insurance as a claims processor for over 20 years, retiring in 1998. She joined the Wausau Insurance Show Chorus and sang at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, the Milwaukee Brewers Stadium and had a solo performance as Sophie Tucker at the annual show. Mary had a beautiful voice and loved music, singing and acting. She was active in the Wausau Community Theater for several years where she made many lifelong friends. She also had great fun attending several Hodag Festivals.
After retirement, she volunteered as a Foster Grandparent at Birnamwood Elementary School and with the community SHARE program. She was able to enjoy traveling which included fulfilling her lifelong dream of taking a trip to Greece, visits to family members in Branson, MO, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC and attending performances at the Spring Green Theater.
Providing her support and praise for whatever they were doing, she made sure to attend her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren's many events. The grandchildren’s fondest memories with ya-ya include dying Easter eggs and swimming with her. As an avid reader, Mary was always in the middle of a book. She enjoyed Hallmark movies, playing bingo, games, trivia and doing sudoku puzzles. She was an excellent cook, skilled at canning and making dandelion wine. Her family always looked forward to a huge Christmas cookie spread during the holidays, with peanut butter balls and Greek cookies among the favorites. She was a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Bears. She loved taking her sons to Wrigley Field, singing along with Harry Caray and watching their games on television. Before moving to Riverview Terrace in Wausau in 2021, she rarely missed going to the Wittenberg pool in the mornings for water aerobics, playing dominoes and visiting with her pool friends.
Mary was an extremely kind, warm and easy to talk to person. She was a wonderful mother, ya-ya/grandmother, great-grandmother and sister. Although we are mourning her passing and she will be deeply missed, she was a woman of faith and we are comforted knowing that she is with the Lord.
Mary is survived by her three sons Thomas (Dawn) Leslie, Wausau, WI, Chris (Lynn) Leslie, Bevent, WI, Luke (Cindy) Leslie, Wausau, WI, six grandchildren Marie Leslie, April (Jake) Sonnentag and children Quinn and Jack; Christopher Leslie, Tom (Christina) Leslie and children Tommy, Anna and Oliver; Megan Peters, Jaeda Leslie and sisters Jennie (Dennis) Bates, Spartanburg, SC and Martha Rudnick, Branson, MO, along with many in-laws, dear cousins, nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, 6205 Alderson Street, Weston on Monday, June 19, 2023. Visitation will be from 10:00 am until the time of service at 1:00 pm