Vail Daily obituary: Dr. Leslie Parker, 1939-2017 |

Vail Daily obituary: Dr. Leslie Parker, 1939-2017

Dr. Leslie Parker of Edwards, Colorado, beloved husband of Emsie and father of Mark, Emme, Ian and Julia, passed away peacefully on March 5 after 77 years of bringing inspiration and joy to family, friends and colleagues. He was born in Consett, County Durham, UK on April 28, 1939,the youngest of four children to Oswald and Nanna Wood Parker. His youthful years in postwar England fostered his passion for intellectual exploration, a love of science and technology as well as a lifelong delight in classical music and theatre.

Leslie was the first Parker to graduate from college, earning his degree from Reading University, UK and rowed for the Varsity Eight. A Fulbright scholarship to the Massachusetts General Hospital brought him to America for the first time, where he worked on the team pioneering the development of medical scanning technology. There he fell in love with his future wife, Emsie McIlvaine, and enjoyed the opportunities that would allow a man from humble beginnings to rise to where he could give all he could to those he cared for: family, friends and strangers alike.

After a brief stay in England, where the couple married, they returned to America, and Leslie taught physics at Washington and Jefferson College (W&J), Washington, PA. He then entered the Ph.D. program at Yale University where he was awarded Master of Science degrees in physics and molecular biophysics, followed by a Ph.D. in molecular biology and biophysics in 1968. A gifted teacher, Leslie joined the faculty of Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The growing family moved from New Haven, Connecticut, to Washington, Pennsylvania. Despite the challenges of a juggling a sizable commute, a full teaching schedule and the needs of four young children, Leslie still found time to join his wife in participating in theatre programs at W&J as well as Washington Community Theatre. Over the next decades, the family home at 100 Wilmont Avenue hosted generations of students in post-performance revelry. While enjoying mentoring students, Leslie looked for challenges closer to home that would give him more time with friends and family. In the mid-1970s, an opportunity arose to help develop the Washington Hospital’s clinical biochemistry capabilities. Over the next three decades, he deployed his gift for cutting edge technology and streamlining lab tests. As part of this effort, Leslie began a lengthy consulting collaboration with Baxter Medical and Beckman Coulter, assisting in their ongoing product development to improve the accuracy and speed of critical care diagnostics. In the latter stages of his professional career, Emsie and Leslie began spending more time in the Vail Valley, embracing the mountain lifestyle. In 2000, they designed and built their dream home which they used to attract their far-flung family who were then living in Asia (Mark), New York (Emme), England (Ian), and Connecticut (Julia).

Leslie retired from the Washington Hospital in 2004 and moved full time to Edwards, Colorado. Never one to sit idle, he immediately explored his options and joined Vail Resorts in the Beaver Creek Landings ticket office as well as human resources where he worked through 2016, making friends and helping guests from across the world. He enjoyed skiing, biking, cooking for friends, and was never happier than when he could look out over the mountains with his dog by his side.

Leslie is survived by his wife, Emsie; son Mark and daughter-in-law Vivien of Hong Kong; daughter Emme and son-in-law Kyle Kozloff of Los Angeles, California; son Ian and daughter-in-law Aleksandra of San Francisco, California; daughter Julia and son-in-law Brian Cronin of Ledyard, Connecticut as well as 11 grandchildren — Sara Parker Badham (NY), Hunter Parker (FL), Storm and Zac Parker (HK), Cameron and Lily Kozloff (CA), Milan Baldini and Daniela Parker (CA), Parker, Emsie, and Peter Cronin (CT). His surviving siblings are Douglas Parker (Lakeland, Florida) and Wendy Fitzpatrick (SC). He was predeceased by his sibling Alan Parker.

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Celebrations of Leslie’s life will be held in Avon, Colorado, on Father’s Day and in Washington, Pennsylvania, over Labor Day weekend.

Because Leslie loved all animals, with a special fondness for dogs, the Parker family suggests that those wishing to make donations in his memory contribute to the Humane Society of the United States or their local chapter.

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