E. Graham "Buck" Leslie, an alumnus of Washington and Lee University and a longtime coach at the school, passed away on Wednesday morning at Stonewall Jackson Hospital in Lexington at the age of 73. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, May 23 at 11:00 am at the Lexington Presbyterian Church. Burial will follow in Stonewall Jackson Cemetery.
"Buck Leslie was the quintessential Washington and Lee gentleman," commented W&L Director of Athletics Mike Walsh. "The University and its athletic community have suffered a big loss. Buck exemplified all that is good in education and intercollegiate athletics."
The Rockbridge County native had a tremendous impact on the county's sports scene. Leslie first gained fame as a star quarterback at Lexington High School in the early 1940's. Following his graduation in 1943 he served in the Navy during World War II and received six battle stars for his service as a gun captain in the Pacific theatre.
Following the war he enrolled at Washington and Lee where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 1949. Leslie was a four-year letterwinner as a pitcher and outfielder for the Generals baseball team and the school's outstanding pitcher award now bears his name.
Leslie then joined the faculty at nearby Natural Bridge High School where he taught social science and coached. Leslie spent 10 years at Natural Bridge and served as the head football coach for six years and the head basketball coach for three years.
In 1960 Leslie returned to W&L as a member of the physical education department and as an assistant football coach. Leslie helped direct the remarkable turnaround of W&L's football program in the early 1960's as the Generals went 25-1-1 from 1960 to 1962, winning the Washington D.C. Touchdown Club's Timmie Award in 1961 as the Outstanding Small College Team in the Nation. W&L's 9-0 1961 team was the subject of a six-page spread in Sports Illustrated entitled "A Sport for Gentlemen."
Following the tragic death of head football Lee McLaughlin in the summer of 1968, Leslie became head coach, a role he filled through the 1972 season. Leslie, who had been an assistant coach in golf since 1963, became the Generals head coach in 1975 following the death of Cy Twombly.
Leslie remained as the head golf coach until his retirement and during his 20 seasons the Generals compiled a winning percentage of 85.1 with a record of 261-44-4. Leslie's final team in 1994 won a record seventh Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship and he also led the team to five NCAA Division III tournament appearances.
Leslie is survived by his wife Jackie, one daughter and son-in law, Debra Leslie & Lt. Col. Frank T. Humphrey, one son, Emmett Graham "Bucky" Leslie III, and two grandchildren, Frank T. Humphrey III and Mary Leslie Humphrey. The family suggests memorial contributions be made the Lexington Lifesaving and First Aid Crew, P.O. Box 957, Lexington, VA 24450.