Leslie Lee Larsen (1/11/28-10/7/18) died peacefully Sunday morning at Memorial Hospital in Modesto with his devoted wife of 70 years, Gwenlyn, at his side. He had fought Parkinson’s with determination for many years and eventually succumbed to pneumonia. He is survived by Gwen along with his three daughters Lu (David), Karen (Phil), and Emily (Bob); six grandchildren, Erik (Ashley), Lindsay (Joey), Tim (Caroline), Gretchen (Kyle), Travis (Christine), and Nate (Danielle); and two great grandsons, Jack and Ed. He was looking forward to the arrival of his third great grandson in March.
Les was born and raised in Modesto, the youngest of seven siblings, and attended Modesto public schools. He loved to recall being on Ernie Jorge’s championship football teams at Modesto High School. He graduated from Modesto Junior College and San Jose State University as an art major, and earned his teaching credential at San Jose State.
After teaching for two years in Santa Clara, Les returned to Modesto where he taught art at Downey High School for 33 years. To this day former students remember him as one of their favorite teachers. Les and Gwen moved to a small ranch and enjoyed the country life for many years before moving back into town for a number of years and recently enjoyed community life at Dale Commons.
Les and Gwen travelled the world and particularly enjoyed the Elderhostel study programs. He also enjoyed skiing, sailing and spending time at the Dardanelle cabin that he and his brothers built with their father in 1944.
Les never stopped creating beautiful art — drawings, paintings, sculptures — which filled his home as well as the homes of his children and grandchildren. Les volunteered for many years with Sylvan Improvement Club, McHenry Museum and Historical Society and the National Ski Patrol. His greatest joy was spending time with his high school sweetheart Gwen, and his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The family will honor Les' request for private services. Donations may be made in memory of Les to the Modesto Junior College Foundation/Art Scholarships to the MJC Foundation, 435 College Avenue, Modesto, CA 95350