IT consultant, reader, comic-book collector, deli connoisseur. Born Aug. 11, 1961, in Montreal, died Feb. 18, 2013, in Loudoun County, Va., of complications from a liver abscess, aged 51.
When Leslie died, his parents, both in their 80s, felt the angel of death must have got his names and addresses mixed up. One of them was supposed to be the next to go.
Leslie’s father, Jay, was the first child born in North America to parents who were Russian refugees, and Leslie was the first grandson. It was said that both he and Jay were spoiled by the attention given them by the rest of the family.
Starting from the age of 4, Leslie was a voracious reader. He soon exhausted all the mystery and science-fiction books at the Fraser-Hickson library in Montreal, but was able to continue when the city of Côte-Saint-Luc opened its library. He had to be shooed out most evenings by the librarian, Eleanor London.
During his years in high school, Leslie would read all his textbooks during the first week in school and spend his time in class reading comic books hidden behind the texts. This was the start of a lifetime collecting comic books, which he took with him from city to city.
After graduating from Concordia University in electrical engineering with great distinction, Leslie worked as a consultant in Montreal, then moved to Newfoundland to work on projects there. His next assignment, in Ottawa, terminated with the demise of Nortel .
Leslie felt that he made a major sacrifice when he moved to the United States to work as a contractor – it meant having to go without Montreal-style Jewish food. He scoured Lexington, Ky., Washington, Maryland and Virginia for, as he put it, “decent bagels, Schwartz-type smoked meat, Putter’s pickles,” to no avail. Every year when he returned to Montreal to renew his work visa, he stocked up. On one trip he returned with 20 four-gallon pails of sour pickles. He had difficulty explaining to U.S. customs that he was an electrical engineer and not a deli owner returning with pickles for his store.
Among his contracts, Leslie worked for the U.S. Marines on classified projects and for Lexmark printers.
Among his proudest achievements was developing a device to measure the contents in huge oil tanks at refineries. He also developed a communications device with which users of public transit in Loudoun County, Va., could press a button at a bus stop to find out when the next bus would arrive.
Being a voracious reader, Leslie could talk knowledgeably, and sometimes argue, on any subject to any person.
After Leslie’s death, his employer wrote the family that Leslie was so versatile and knowledgeable, three people would have to be hired to replace him. Colleagues from all over North America sent messages of praise and thanks for Leslie’s kindness and patience.
On his gravestone will be inscribed: “A brilliant mind. Gone too soon.”
Jay Rubinstein is Leslie’s father.