Leslie M. Sinclair Hamilton
October 19, 1953 ‒ September 06, 2017
Leslie Hamilton’s flaming red hair was her signature feature. Below those luxuriant tresses lay a keen intellect, a deep faith and a passion to create.
Leslie Mary Sinclair was born in Oakland, California on October 19, 1953. She spent her early childhood in nearby San Leandro then moved with her family in 1968 to Murphys, a quaint Gold Rush era town in the Sierra Nevada foothills. There she graduated from Calaveras High School in 1971. She attended Delta College in Stockton, California before marrying Glenn Hamilton on September 10, 1972, a marriage and love that would last 45 years.
Glenn pursued a Christian ministry and his academic work took the young couple to Chicago where their son, Robert, was born in 1975. While Glenn led his first congregation at Cedar Creek Evangelical Covenant Church in Michigan, Leslie pursued her studies. She initially majored in art and chemistry, but a charismatic teacher from Bolivia sparked what would become her lifelong love affair with the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures around the world. She lived and studied in Spain for a year. She received her bachelors and masters degrees in Spanish from State University of New York at Buffalo where she also pursued her PhD, completing all requirements but her dissertation.
As Glenn’s career led the couple to churches in Pennsylvania and then Ohio, Leslie taught Spanish at nearby high schools. She took pride in sparking students’ interest in Hispanic cultures and in building their understanding of each culture’s unique qualities. The couple’s vacations to Florida, Texas and New Mexico became her research expeditions through which she immersed herself in each region’s distinct art, music, food and localized Spanish dialects.
Leslie was a woman of strong faith. She supported Glenn’s ministry by creating, developing and expanding programs for children, teens and young mothers with kids. Applying both her intellect and creativity, Leslie made church activities and studies interesting and engaging, recognizing that the best learning takes place while having fun.
At Cedar Creek she led a group of 15-20 youth—a remarkable number given the small church congregation. Her programs were so popular the church kids invited their school friends to join.
For Leslie, the act of creating was her greatest source of pleasure and she poured herself into each new project. Throughout her life, it seemed her long slender fingers always held a needle and thread, a paint brush or a glue gun and beads. As a child, she spent countless hours in her room crafting tiny paper mache dolls with delicately painted features and period clothes, populating an entire miniature western town or a medieval village. Holiday gifts were always handmade, sometimes requiring months or even years of work.
As an adult, Leslie delighted in rescuing objects worn from years of love that had fallen by the wayside — old quilts, furniture and jewelry. She rescued Teddy bears. At the time of her passing, her bedroom was filled with small brown furry folk wearing whimsical expressions, jaunty outfits and threadbare ears. She took great satisfaction in restoring them to new glory.
Leslie passed away September 6, 2017 from metastatic melanoma. During her treatment over the past two years she participated in studies that, while not successful in prolonging her life, may help others coping with this aggressive form of cancer. Melanoma, usually caused by sun exposure, is preventable and highly treatable when caught early. Leslie’s family encourages everyone to use sunscreen and protective clothing when outdoors, learn to recognize the early signs of melanoma and get regular skin examinations.
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be sent to McCurdy Ministries, 362A South McCurdy Road, Espanola, New Mexico, 87532, a program of the United Methodist Church serving youth in New Mexico.
Leslie is survived by her husband Glenn Hamilton, son Robert Hamilton and sister Marcia Sinclair.