OBITUARY

Leslie Long Melson

July 20, 1955January 24, 2021

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is Thy Faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

According to the faithfulness of our great God, Leslie Long Melson met her Savior on Sunday morning, January 24, 2021. Her faith in Jesus was turned into sight. Leslie was a spectacular force of grace. Though her days with us felt short, her impact on our lives and for the kingdom of God was massive. We have great hope—a hope that she no longer needs—that we will be together again. Oh, what a glorious thought—to be together in Jesus! Until then, we will continue the faithful work our Leslie began: to seek justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

Leslie Ann Long was born on July 20, 1955, in Hamilton, Ohio, to Bill and Ann Long. She was their first born and only girl, followed by three younger brothers, David, Steve, and Jeff. As the oldest, Leslie assumed the role of nurturing older sister as the Long family moved around the country for Bill’s work. They planted their roots in new spots—moving from Middletown, Ohio, to New Castle, Indiana, to New Canaan, Connecticut, and finally to Texas. Through each move, the Long family remained bolstered by their deep love for extended family and generations of history together. Leslie’s childhood was marked by the incredible gifts of cousins, aunts, uncles, and beloved grandparents. This trait of adoration for extended family would follow her all the days of her life.

Leslie was the apple of her father’s eye. As a young child, Bill nicknamed her “Peach”—a nod to her “soft as a peach” cheeks. Little did he know how iconic that name would become! Our Peach carried that precious name from that day forward. Leslie graduated from Richardson High School in Dallas, Texas, in 1973. She attended Southern Methodist University, studying art, and quickly found a home in Kappa Alpha Theta. During her days at SMU, she met a young man who was steady as the tide, with Texas roots as deep as an oak tree. Jim Melson swept Leslie off her feet and they were married at Highland Park Presbyterian Church on August 19, 1978.

Jim and Leslie made Dallas home. Their greatest adventure began in 1982 when they welcomed their firstborn, Jed. The Melson family grew with Ann (1984), Ellen (1987), and John (1990)—a sibling pack who knew the unconditional love of two adoring parents. Leslie found great joy in her children. Though her areas of involvement in the Highland Park community were numerous, she was most passionate about anything and everything her children loved. Leslie was uniquely gifted as an artist, a leader, a philanthropist, and as a selfless servant. She was a “shared mom.” Many of our friends claim our Peach as a significant part of their upbringing. Her home was a revolving door of hospitality as she offered huge family meals and a safe haven for everyone to feel welcomed, significant, and loved. She loved to love people, and the Lord used her to make His love known. The Melson front yard was a year-round football field, the third floor was the hang out, and the kitchen was always ready to feed 2 or 20 additional kids. If you were around at dinner time, you had a seat at the table.

We often wondered how Peach did it. Her impact was as wide as her sincerity was deep. She was a mainstay to the school district as she served on the PTA from Hyer Elementary to Highland Park High School, on the HP Education Foundation, as a presiding board member of HP Arts, and as a passionate HPISD Board member for nearly a decade. Wherever her kids were, that’s where you would find Leslie. From ballet to Boy Scouts to Belles to baseball to Texas A&M, Leslie was “all in” for her children. We are the greatest recipients of her full attention, love, and adoration. Her love and unlimited encouragement will sustain us all the days our lives. Outside of her time with HPISD, Leslie faithfully gave back to SMU as President of the Alumni Association and a member of the Board of Trustees. Jim and Leslie raised their children under the faithful ministry of Highland Park Presbyterian Church, a church that was so precious to Leslie and one of her most treasured affiliations. It’s impossible to accumulate a comprehensive list of her areas of influence in the community. Somehow, she did it all with such grace, joy, and passion.

While Dallas was always home base, the Melson family grew up in the pastures of East Texas at Marita Ranch and on the shores of Amelia Island in Florida. Leslie and Jim instilled within their children a deep love for family, gathered chaos, and the Lord’s creation. Leslie had a bleeding heart for animals. She adopted cats, dogs, and even baby goats. She had a magic about her that kept us captivated. The Melson family grew even bigger when Jed, Ann, and Ellen married. Jennifer, Robby, and Clayton were seamless additions and Peach loved them completely. She became the biggest champion of their passions as well. Most notably, Leslie was the most committed fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers and her beloved son-in-law—and no doubt a significant factor in their 2020 World Series win.

If there is a role that stands out above all the rest, it was Leslie’s calling as a grandmother. The magic and captivating love of Peach took on a whole new level when the “grands” hit the scene. She held court as beloved grandmother to 8 boys and one girl—“Wendy and the Lost Boys,” as she would call them. Jay, Will, Kyle, Cali Ann, John, Charley, Reed, Cooper and Carter will continue to grow up under the glow of their Peach and G’Dad’s adoration. They got the very best version of Peach.

How can our hearts be filled with anything less than overwhelming joy as we consider the life we have shared with Leslie? Though we mourn, we do not do so as those who have no hope. Our hope is in Jesus, who now holds Peach, complete, healthy, and whole. She taught us the satisfaction of knowing Jesus until the very end, which has become her new beginning—the burning edge of dawn—Glory!

Our Peach…the Lord’s Leslie. She had more grit and more grace than this world will ever know. With her example and high hope of heaven, we rejoice and sing with her: “Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning, new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.” Alleluia! We will be together again in the Lord and until then, we carry the immeasurable privilege of belonging to Peach.

A private service will be held in celebration of Leslie’s life at Highland Park Presbyterian Church on February 14, 2021 at 2:00 pm CST. In-person attendance is by invitation only, but all are welcome to attend the service virtually at www.hppres.org/melson. In lieu of flowers, our family would be blessed by any contribution made to Kershaw’s Challenge (www.KershawsChallenge.com), a charity founded with our Mom’s guidance and love and passion.

Services

No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

Memories

Leslie Long Melson

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Gary Cogill

February 27, 2021

Leslie was an amazing human being. A light of humanity for many of us. She always looked me in the eye and with her radiant smile, had something positive to say.

Leslie always made me feel special even when I didn't feel special. She had a remarkable gift that included lifting others up.

What a light, what a woman, what a lovely lovely beautiful woman.

I'm heartbroken and send love and Aloha to her family, especially Jim, Ellen, Clayton, and the kids.

Shelby Strodel

February 13, 2021

Melson Family,

Leslie was such an inspiration to me for all the days I’ve known her. John and I are the same class and we got to chair the Junior Symphony Ball together with our moms back in high school. Looking back it was such a gift to have gotten to know Leslie as more than just a friend’s mom. Whether I was watching her from a far or seeing her at church, she never failed to remind me of God’s love and how we can be his hands and feet. As you well know, she gave the best hugs and had a way of holding your shoulders and smiling over you that so clearly communicated you were God’s perfect creation. I will miss her dearly and am holding each of you in my prayers as we will look to celebrate her legacy and her being reunited with our Lord.

Shelby Strodel

Carol Brejot

February 11, 2021

I have literally known Leslie for a lifetime - from about age four in New Castle, IN and then later in Dallas. Though a few months apart, she was a grade ahead of me in school and someone who I always looked up to and respected. Though I have not lived in Dallas for many years, I kept up with the goings on of the amazing Melson clan. Words cannot adequately express how special Leslie was, but here are a few: kind, compassionate, warm, nurturing, intelligent, Godly, involved, effervescent. Peach touched countless lives. I send my love and condolences to Jim and their big, beautiful family. "Faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love." That was Leslie - love.

Susan McCormick

February 10, 2021

Leslie was a mentor, advocate and friend to me during my time at HP. Her unwavering support sustained me many times. May flights of Angels see her home.

Lyda Akin

February 8, 2021

This is one of the most beautiful and fitting obituaries I've ever read. This captures Peach and all that we all love about her. I've never known anyone with a more generous heart, kind soul and more faith in our Lord. I was blessed to call Leslie a friend and Theta sister. She will have a huge meal waiting for us on the table when we join her one day.

Rita Clinton

February 8, 2021

Sending all our love to all of you. Additional words fail me after reading that beautiful account of Leslie's godly life.

Ricky Joe Redd

February 8, 2021

Leslie was an amazing lady that my family and I adored! Our lives are definitely richer for having been a part of her life for several years. Prayers and love to her family

Karen Krenz Miller

February 7, 2021

I was lucky enough to be on the same freshman floor with Leslie. It was always clear that she was a very special person. Always so outgoing and kind to everyone. Truly outstanding in so many ways. Thoughts and prayers for your family.

Georgia Ley

February 7, 2021

We met Leslie (and Jim and Jed) in the early 1980s when we lived across the street from each other in Preston Hollow. During that time we got to see and experience Leslie’s warmth, kindness, generosity and joy for life. She will be truly missed by so many.

Sending prayers and love to the Melson family,

Larry and Georgia Ley, Carolyn Ley Thomas and Laura Ley Staub

Nancy Theriot

February 3, 2021

I met Leslie when I was the counselor at HYER Elementary School. She was known and loved by everyone and such a support for our school. She served many roles and was the president of PTA. Later she was president of the HP school board. What an amazing mom and leader. She has left her mark in such a positive way. It was an honor to know and work with her. My thoughts and prayers go to her incredible family.
May God bless you all,
Nancy Theriot

FROM THE FAMILY