Obituary for Dr. Perry T. Leslie (1944-2017)


Dr. Perry Leslie’s unexpected death on Thursday, September 14 will be met with great sadness by his friends and colleagues at UBC and in the Deaf Education and Special Education communities.


Dr. Leslie joined UBC in 1975 and retired as Emeritus Professor of Special Education in 2003. He was immensely proud of his UBC association, both as a student and a faculty member. He held a doctorate from UBC and for over 30 years served as an educator, researcher, and administrator in Special Education.  He was Acting Head of the Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education from 1991-1997 and later Head of the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education from 1997 until his retirement. He is warmly remembered as serving as the “introduction to UBC” for new faculty members, who found in him a supportive mentor whose office door was virtually always open to them.


His particular area of expertise was Deaf Education, and he focused on the professional preparation of teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing throughout his entire academic career. In the early years of his career at UBC he helped Dr. Bryan Clarke establish and solidify the UBC diploma program in Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and in the 1990s he led the transformation of the program to the magisterial level. It is in large part due to Dr. Leslie’s visionary leadership that the program remains vibrant almost 50 years after its establishment. Students in the program – later teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing throughout BC and across Canada – have been enriched by his enduring legacy of honesty, integrity, and high professional standards.


A prevailing theme of Dr. Leslie’s career was the promotion of equitable access to appropriate education for persons with disabilities. This commitment involved him in the support and development of professional organizations and in advocacy. By way of example, in 1987 he formed and chaired the President’s Advisory Committee on Disability Issues at UBC, and in 1995 he was appointed to the BC Ministry of Education Board of Examiners. An additional role that he particularly enjoyed – and of no less importance in his eyes — was being Santa at the Vancouver Oral Centre for many years.


Dr. Leslie cared deeply for his family and friends, his community and work, his students and colleagues…and his little red car. Following his distinguished career at UBC, he and his wife enjoyed travel adventures and socializing with friends and family. He is survived by his best friend and loving wife of 52 years, Myrna Gail (Spence), and his children, Jason (Bonnie) and Michelle (Grant). He was also the proud grandfather of three cherished grandchildren: Spencer, Trevor, and Renee.


The family will receive friends and colleagues on Sunday, October 22nd from 2:00 PM-5:00 PM at Waterview, 1661 Granville St., Vancouver. Sign language interpreting services will be provided. In lieu of flowers, the Dr. Perry T. Leslie Memorial has been established at the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, 2125 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V6K 1X9 (Charitable registration # 108200098RR0001).