Leslie Coe Jelacic
February 16, 1945 – October 1, 2020
Leslie Coe Jelacic, 75, passed away on the evening of September 30, 2020 at her home in Heritage Harbour, Annapolis, MD. She was born on February 16, 1945 in Parkersburg, WV to Robert Cline Coe and Doris Spence Coe. She is survived by her husband of 56 years, John E. Jelacic; two sons, Matthew R. (Christina) Jelacic and John Andrew (Snow) Jelacic; her beautiful new granddaughter, Lucia; several nieces and nephews; and many, many cousins.
She spent her formative years in Wheeling, WV, where she graduated from Mt. de Chantal Visitation Academy. She is a graduate of Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA. Her undergraduate education involved a circuitous route that began in Morgantown, WV (West Virginia University), progressed to Chapel Hill, NC (The University of North Carolina), before finally ending with a double major in History and English in New Wilmington, PA where she graduated from Westminster College in 1973. Her undergraduate education was bracketed by the births of her two sons. Matthew was born while she was a student at West Virginia University and Andrew was born just prior to her graduation from Westminster College. After two years in New Wilmington, Leslie, her husband and two sons moved to Northern Virginia in the fall of 1973 where they raised their sons and lived much of their adult lives.
Most of her professional career was spent as an educator and as a paralegal with medical malpractice defense law firms. When sons Matthew and Andrew became sufficiently independent, Leslie began exploring employment opportunities. Her first endeavor was as a real estate agent, but she found the profession unsatisfactory. She next considered law, but in deciding whether or not to follow that path into law school she first trained to be a paralegal to learn if the law suited her. When she finished her training, the director of the school she attended offered her the position of assistant administrator. She accepted and a year later was promoted to the position of director when the person who had hired her departed. She managed the school for the next two years.
Leslie then was offered and accepted a position at the law firm of Godard and West, which specialized in medical malpractice defense work. With no prior training in medicine, she threw herself into the study of medical and hospital terminology and practices and soon became adept at reading and interpreting patient medical records in support of her legal team. She loved the work and made it her career for the remainder of her working life. As a consequence of her work, she acquired an extensive knowledge of the quality of physicians and hospitals in the Northern Virginia region. When friends were searching for advice about whom to consult regarding various medical problems, they would often ask her for guidance.
A description of Leslie’s professional career would not be complete without mentioning an interesting three-year period during which she managed the serials (academic journals) department at the graduate school library of the University of North Carolina. She and her family moved to Chapel Hill in the fall of 1967 where her husband entered graduate school. After spending the first year caring for her young son and attending classes at the University, she decided to go to work. She applied for a position at the University and was hired as a library assistant, assigned to the serials department. When she reported to her position, she learned that the professional librarian who had been the director of the department had departed. Leslie was asked to perform many of the tasks that had been the responsibility of the former librarian. These responsibilities included managing the subscriptions of hundreds of national and international academic, professional and technical journals. Leslie was assured that the assignment would be temporary and would end when a replacement was hired. A new librarian was hired - two years later - and Leslie helped to train the new librarian in the workings of the department. Leslie did it in good cheer and she and the librarian became life-long friends.
In many ways the four years that Leslie and her family lived in Chapel Hill were among the happiest of their lives. Residing in the charming and dynamic college town was very agreeable. Aside from enjoying the ambiance of the town and the numerous extracurricular activities available as members of the University community, they formed lifelong friendships among the people with whom they lived, worked and studied. While living in Chapel Hill they acquired a VW Bus that they outfitted as a camper and used for trips to the Outer Banks, the Smokey Mountains and other destinations. During one summer break they ventured north along the east coast and through New England, visiting friends and relatives along the way, until they reached the tip of the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec, Canada. They then headed up the St. Lawrence River, visiting Quebec City as well as sites along the Canadian shores of Lake Ontario before ending their trip with a visit to their families in Wheeling.
On a personal level, Leslie will be remembered for her beauty and elegance, her thoughtfulness, quick wit, love of story-telling and impeccable taste which she exhibited especially in a passion and talent for interior design. Leslie loved to decorate and redecorate her homes. She acquired her knowledge about design from observation and from texts on the subject, but much of her talent was natural. She also pursued her avocation with frugality, using her skills as a seamstress to fashion window coverings, searching flea markets and used furniture stores for pieces that she would refinish or reupholster and brandishing paint brush and roller when a room needed a color change. On two memorable occasions her talents were required not by design but by necessity. In September 2003 Hurricane Isabel caused a huge oak tree to fall across the back of their home in Annandale, VA. The roof was significantly impacted and rain water damage required considerable repairs, repainting and redecorating. Then, less than a year later, Hurricane Charlie severely damaged a vacation home that the family then owned in Punta Gorda, FL. After reconstruction was completed, Leslie went to work to refurnish and redecorate the dwelling, ordering most of the materials online for delivery to the house. She and her cousin, Colleen, then flew to Florida and in a week put all the pieces together to turn it, once again, into a showpiece. Leslie’s talents were such that friends and neighbors who visited her homes would often ask for advice in finishing their own homes.
She had a deep regard for family history and worked to sustain her kinship connections. Leslie kept on touch with the various branches of her family and traced their roots through the rural towns of Wirt County, WV, through Colonial America and back to ancestral homes in England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany. One of her favorite activities was to attend the biennial reunions of her mother’s family, the Spence Clan, which held its gatherings all over the country - from Miami Beach to the Finger Lakes, from Kansas City to the Poconos, from the shores of Lake Michigan to the beaches of South Carolina and many places in between, including, of course, West Virginia, where Leslie hosted family gatherings at Oglebay Park in Wheeling.
Along with travel, Leslie enjoyed attending concerts with her friends. Her tastes were eclectic and included the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center; Ray Charles at Wolf Trap; Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid shows in Sterling, VA; blues, folk and country music at clubs such as the Birchmere in Alexandria and The Cellar Door in Georgetown. Most memorably, for several years she, her husband and a group of friends faithfully attended Jimmy Buffet shows whenever he appeared in the greater Washington area.
Her love for Mt. de Chantal Visitation Academy, its faculty and alumni found expression in life-long service and advocacy to its cause. Leslie became a student at Mt. DeChantal in the sixth grade. Her enrollment at the academy was by chance, the result of a childhood medical condition that required surgery on both of her hips. As a result she spent much of her tenth and eleventh years-of-age in heavy casts and a wheel chair. She was able to attend school in the fifth grade using a telecommuting device provided by the local phone company. In the sixth grade, however, her local public school was unable to accommodate her, but the Visitation Sisters at the Mount went out of their way to make room for her. She loved the school and thrived there. She kept in close touch with her teachers, visited them whenever she was in Wheeling and was an active member of the alumnae Association. Leslie, as well as her fellow alumnae, were devastated when the school was forced to close in 2008, caused primarily by the collapse of the industrial-based economy in the upper Ohio Valley. Leslie worked to keep her classmates and the alumnae organized as a group, using social media in the cause. In 2013, the year of her 50th anniversary of graduation from The Mount, Leslie and her good friend and fellow Mount student, Maryann Shaw Bortz, organized a celebration in Wheeling which was attended by most of her former classmates.
In her later life Leslie exhibited tenacity and humor amidst health challenges and found renewed vigor and joy in her granddaughter, Lucia. She and her husband have been Annapolis residents and members of St. Mary’s Parish since 2005.
A memorial services is planned for a time and place when public gatherings can once again be held in safety. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The American Lung Association or to the charity of one’s choice.
- American Lung Association
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Leslie Coe Jelacic
Pat & David Reagan Briggs
October 14, 2020
An invitation to sit and chat with Leslie was like going to special little party; she offered up delightful quips and stories along with refreshments. Her sense of humor and her quick wit were absolutely fun. Leslie was smart with charming insights full of life’s experiences. Her home was warm and welcoming as well as beautiful, and she was willing to share her excellent sense of design with others.
Leslie had a great flare for jewelry, clothes, and hairstyles; she looked gorgeous when we met she and John for dinner.
Best of all was Leslie the grandmother. Little Lucia really made Leslie’s light shine even brighter. Her joy and pride in Luci made for a very special bond, and Leslie loved to share pictures and stories of her.
We will miss you, Leslie. You were a special beautiful lady full of joy for life!
Pat & David
October 13, 2020
Words are not enough. to express our sorrow and grief for your loss and ours. Our special friendship over six decades met so much to us. I, in particular enjoyed our Sunday afternoon telephone chats over the past 6 months of the pandemic. Sorry we didn't live closer . Leslie would be proud to know that yesterday for the first time I voted for a Democrat for POTUS! We will never forget.
Brad and Dianne Knapp
Bob and Barbara Farrell
October 12, 2020
Bob and I are grateful to get to know Leslie as our neighbors. Her enthusiasm for life and her love for John were so evident in all she did. Little Lucia was the apple of her eye and I am so happy she got to know her through the miracle of the tech we are able to use. Being her grandmother was the high light of Leslie's life,I am sure.
We will miss her. She was quite a lady.
Bob and Barbara Farrell
October 11, 2020
I knew of Leslie through the vivid writings shared with her Husband
John over the years in our writing classes.
She had a full life, but left it far too soon.
I send my sincere condolences to John and the family.